Crime and legal dramas are some of the most popular shows on television today. America loves watching prosecutors fight to put criminals behind bars, defense attorneys fight to protect the rights of the wrongfully accused, and corporate attorneys scheme to get the best deal. The legal profession is absolutely thrilling on TV, and millions tune in each week to watch fictional attorneys work their magic. While there have been thousands of attorneys portrayed on television, a few have stood out over the years. These attorneys are smart, cunning, engaging, and most importantly, entertaining. Here is our list of the top 10 lawyers on TV.
Show: Ally McBeal
Actress: Calista Flockhart
Ally McBeal was one of the first iconic female attorneys on television. Sure, there were others before her, but she approached the law in a way that was exciting and incredibly fun to watch. She blazed the trail for future powerful female attorneys to be outspoken, cunning, and sharp.
Show: Arrested Development
Actor: Henry Winkler
Not every attorney can graduate at the top of their class and be a force to reckon with. Barry Zuckerkorn, the Bluth’s family attorney on Arrested Development, is a prime example of what you don’t want in an attorney. Still, watching him fumble with the law and offer incredibly outrageous legal advice is incredibly fun.
Show: Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad
Actor: Bob Odenkirk
Saul Goodman was so good on Breaking Bad that fans demanded even more of the attorney in the form of his own show. Goodman won hearts of Breaking bad fans everywhere with his sharp wit and often unorthodox (and illegal) tactics.
Show: Boston Legal
Actor: James Spader
Boston Legal may be based on the law firm of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, but Alan Shore stole the show. Played brilliantly by James Spader, Shore was equally detestable and lovable. His passion for his clients, rapport with his peers and Boston judges, and incredibly outrageous courtroom stunts helped to make him one of the best fictional attorneys to ever grace the small screen.
Show: The Good Wife
Actress: Carrie Preston
The Good Wife was at its best when Elsbeth Tascioni was involved in the drama’s weekly legal case. She may come across as a disorganized and scatterbrained lawyer, but her ability to win tough cases proved that she was a fantastic attorney. Elsbeth’s quirky personality and eccentric mannerisms made her a joy to watch both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Show: Law & Order
Actor: Sam Waterson
When you think of Law & Order one name probably comes to mind: Jack McCoy. McCoy was a sharp, unconventional, and determined District Attorney who quickly became a fan favorite. He had the drive to do whatever it takes to get the bad guy, which often had the character walking a fine line between justice and corruption.
Show: Law & Order: SVU
Actress: Stephanie March
Law & Order: SVU has been on the air for nearly two decades, and in that time the show has had some stellar Assistant District Attorneys fighting to put away the bad guys. Alexandra Cabot, the show’s very first ADA, stands out as one of the show’s toughest and most genuine attorneys in the show’s two-decade run. Cabot was so good at her job that an assassination attempt forced her into witness protection to avoid certain death at the hands of a Columbian drug cartel.
Show: The Practice
Actor: Dylan McDermott
Bobby Donnell had a mission when he started his small Boston law firm. He wanted to prove that you can be a great attorney without stepping on the little guy. As his firm flourished he proved that an attorney can be both successful, passionate, and a true advocate for those in need. However, the fear of turning into a greedy and out-of-touch attorney often resulted in challenges to the rise of his firm.
Actor: Sam Lloyd
Ted Buckland was not a good lawyer. In fact, he was a pretty terrible lawyer. He never understood the law, lacked the confidence required to be feared legal mind, and regularly gave bad advice to the employees at Sacred Heart Hospital. However, Ted was quite charming and, as the frequent recipient of Dr. Kelso’s wrath, he ultimately became one of the most notable attorneys on TV.
Actor: Gabriel Macht
Harvey Specter is who you want representing you when things are tough. Harvey is not just any graduate of Harvard Law; he is one of the most cutthroat and cunning attorneys in New York City. He knows this all too well, and his ego often jeopardizes his success. Under his stern and egotistical exterior lies a vulnerable and lovable guy who just wants to be the best attorney in Manhattan.
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