“I Rest My Case”: Top Twenty Greatest Tv Lawyers.
When it comes to lawyers in real life we could take ’em or leave ’em, and yet we can’t get enough of these legal maestros on tv and films. Television is surrounded by courtroom legal shows from sitcoms to dramas to all these Judge Judy\Mathis\Maybelline type of shows. Like in real life the best type of lawyers are the ones that are cunning, swift, know the law like the back of their own hand and win far more cases than they lose. I count down twenty of what I consider to be tv’s greatest Lawyers who’d I want on my side as a defense attorney or to nail the opposing party as a prosecutor. Some are sleazy and slick, others are noble and justice seekers, but they’re all the best of the tv bunch.
20. Christine Sullivan. Night Court.
Night Court’s Christine Sullivan was that optimistic, idealistic, and just overall perky type of public defender that you could always count on to shine a rae of sun into your rainy day. She may not have won a whole lot… or even more than a few times, but her bright attitude and passion for justice is what I’d want in a Public Defender. And the best thing about her is that was never afraid to show a“little moxy” for the sake of good.
19. Dan Fielding. Night Court.
Sleazy, underhanded, womanizing prosecutor Reinhold Daniel “Dan” Fielding was the perfect example of a typical prosecutor: Very much out for himself and social climbing, and endlessly sucking up to get ahead. John Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys for his iconic portrayal and it’s easy to see why. He and the writers made Dan Fielding a character for the ages.
18. Thirsty. Empire.
As shifty and nickel slick as they come, Thirsty was definitely the Tom Hagen to Lucious Lyon’s Don (and Michael) Corleone. Thirsty may have been the classic type of shady, ambulance chasing lawyer, but we all know how truly loyal he was to the Lyon family, especially his number 1 client, Lucious Lyon. Sometimes you need an attorney whose willing to do some dirty work and Thirsty was certainly that type of attorney.
17. Harvey Specter. Suits.
Smooth as silk and sly like a fox, Harvey Specter was Pearson Hardman’s ace in the hole. He was a bit unconventional and definitely could be on the edge at times, but at the end of the day you’d rather have had Harvey on your side then against you.
16. Clair Huxtable. The Cosby Show.
As a mother Clair Huxtable was tough, no nonsense, devoted and wicked sharp; She was the same way in the courtroom. We may not have seen a lot of Clair in her element as an attorney but when we did we saw that she was not one to be trifled with. Sharp attention to detail and that piercing look when someone dared to cross her made Clair a lawyer I’d hire any day.
15. Caroline Julian. Bones.
Wicked smart and intimidating as hell, Caroline Julian was one of tv’s most badass federal prosecutors. The Jeffersonian team and the FBI could always rely on her to get crap done. She was feisty and scary, but had a big heart underneath it all, which ultimately made her the glue that kept that crazy group together.
14. Donny Douglas. Frasier.
Donny may not have won Daphne’s heart but he certainly always won a case. He may not have seemed like it when Niles and Frasier first met him, but Donny is the type of shark of a divorce attorney anybody should be blessed to have during a divorce, especially a bitter one. Saul Rubinek is versatile enough as an actor to play both a vulnerable, lovable lug and a very intimidating, threatening force and as Donny Douglas he got to show both of those sides on occasion.
13. Maxine Shaw. Living Single.
Maxine Shaw, attorney at law! If you wanted a lawyer who could make you laugh ’til you peed your pants and win your case in a heartbeat then Max is your girl. What she may have lacked in manners, stable relationships with men and overall chill, she excelled in taking control of a courtroom.
12. Alexandra Cabot. Law & Order SVU.
Alex Cabot was SVU’s original ADA and was quite the dynamo. She had a deep passion for the cases and would fight to the death to get justice for the victims. Though, she was also human and sometimes her passion would get her and the cases into trouble. At the end of the day, though, Alex Cabot did her thing and will always be the first of all the ADAs that passed through over the years.
11. Casey Novak. Law & Order SVU.
It wasn’t easy replacing Alex Cabot, but, as they say: The show must go on. And it certainly did with Diane Neal’s Casey Novak the second ADA in Law& Order SVU history. While on the surface both Cabot and Novak were similar, but where they differed is that Casey knew where to hit ya and make it hurt. She was a bit more cutthroat than Alex ever was, which made her such a great asset to the SVU squad.
10. Saul Goodman. Breaking Bad\Better Call Saul.
What Saul Goodman lacked in ethics and morals, he gained in skillful BSing and artful dodges in the courtroom. The character became so popular off of his run in Breaking Bad that they gave him his own spin off that just went off the air recently. Saul Goodman definitely has a place in tv history as one of its favorite and greatest shady, but talented lawyers.
9. Jared Franklin & Peter Bash. Franklin and Bash.
Jared Franklin and Peter Bash may be unconventional and unorthodox but this is an epic law duo that had a flair for the dramatic as well as for the most wild and crazy fun two bros could have. They may not have won their cases the traditional way, but they always won them.
8. Matt Murdock. Daredevil.
By night he is the dark avenger of justice, but by day he’s a smooth and super amazing blind lawyer; one could say that Matt Murdock is a jack of all trades. He’s got compassion, intellect, ethics, morals, passion and a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of the law making him the kind of lawyer everyone in the MCU calls upon at some point.
7. Arnie Becker. LA Law.
We may know the great Corbin Bernson as Shawn Spencer’s dad Henry on Psych, but before that he was ace divorce attorney Arnie Becker. A sleazy, arrogant, money grubbing and mostly unscrupulous slug, but he still had his moments of humanity. The role made Bernson a star and was so believable as a typical divorce lawyer that a real law firm called Freed Marcroft discussed how accurate and ultimately influential divorce\family law was represented by the character. https://freedmarcroft.com/its-time-to-talk-about-arnie/ . No doubt that if you’re splitting from your spouse, Arnie’s the guy you want to represent you.
6. Joyce Davenport. Hill Street Blues.
Sexy, tough, smart, uncompromising and litigious to a fault, Joyce Davenport is the ultimate Public Defender anybody would be lucky to have in their corner. She was a fierce protector of her clients and would tear the cops at Hill Street apart if she felt that her clients’ rights weren’t being respected. She also had one of the most iconic tv romances of the 1980’s with Captain Frank Furillo. Joyce was a different kind of character for the time: A career woman who also had a passionate and strong relationship. She was inspirational to the 1980’s career woman, and was a damn good attorney.
5. Jackie Chiles. Seinfeld.
Jackie Chiles just is the man…. I don’t need to go into too much detail because that’s just a fact. A perfect parody of Johnny Cochran, Phil Morris made the character of Jackie one of Seinfeld’s greatest and funniest characters and the amazing chemistry between Morris and Richards made Seinfeld even funnier than it already was. As Jackie himself would refer to himself, he’s simply facetious, humorous, hilarious!
4. Jack McCoy. Law & Order.
Law & Order’s Jack McCoy has become so iconic and believable as a fictional prosecutor that the state of New York named him as a living landmark. McCoy was a man of convictions and thirst for truth and justice and there was very little he wouldn’t do to get either one. Sam Waterston has returned to the role for the current revival series at 81 years old and still as fiery and epic as ever.
3. Beth Davenport. The Rockford Files.
Beth Davenport was Jim Rockford’s go to gal whenever he got into a jam. She was a feisty, wicked smart and just plain badass defense attorney who kept up her femininity and beauty while also being a pretty stone cold lawyer. What more can a man ask for? Beth was a fighter for justice and more often than not got Jim out of whatever mess he got himself into. That’s the type of lawyer and friend anyone should ask for.
2. Perry Mason. Perry Mason.
When it comes to titans of law, Perry Mason is certainly one of them. Perry Mason was and still is the lawyer’s lawyer: A brilliant and dedicated lawyer\sleuth who used his Sherlock Holmes type skills, right hand man and woman in Paul Drake and Della Street, and his skillful ways of bending the law to save his clients from wrongful imprisonment. Perry is one of tv’s most memorable and beloved characters, and his name is the first one you think of when you think of a lawyer whether it’s fictional or real.
- Ben Matlock. Matlock.
It was brutal trying to choose between Ben and Perry for the number 1 spot because these two are surely the greatest, most iconic lawyers in television history. But, It came down to my history with Ben growing up edging Perry out by a smidge. Ben was a true master in the courtroom, winning almost every case he tried and always getting the truth out and justice prevailed. Not only was he a brilliant lawyer but also a brilliant detective and a wonderful guitar player. Talk about a triple threat.
These twenty top tier attorneys are all the ones we’d “kill” for in real life. They were all very different yet all had expert skills and drive to own the courtroom in common. I’ll leave you with what’s always good advice… Get out of Jack McCoy’s way.