The media’s depiction of lawyers over the years is very problematic. Lawyers in TV and movies are generally depicted as falling under one of two categories. On one end of the spectrum, you have the argumentative workaholics who have a terrifyingly cold approach to their job. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the slimy ambulance chasers who will do anything for a buck. As an attorney myself, I find this offensive! I work in legal services, offering pro bono legal assistance to the elderly. I certainly don’t fall in either of those categories and there are many more attorneys that don’t either. I’m glad to say that Netflix’s Daredevil was one of the first shows in recent memory that finally got something right about depicting lawyers in the media.
I do have to preface this article by saying that Daredevil is easily one of my favorite superhero comics of all time. The movie, which will further go unmentioned, was a huge bummer not only because it was just terrible, but because it completely missed the mark as to what makes Matt Murdock who he is as a person and as an attorney. The Netflix show, while not perfect, certainly “got it” a lot more and overall, I really enjoyed it.
The thing that I liked so much about the law practice of Nelson and Murdock was their interactions with their client, Ms. Cardenas. When the show introduced this client and her legal issue, I tried to ease myself in and not over-analyze the legal stuff. I had to remind myself that at the end of the day, it was really just a superhero show.
I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The Cardenas case eerily reflected what I do in my own line of work. I represent elderly clients with Landlord/Tenant issues. I don’t necessarily deal with tenants being ousted as a result of a crime boss trying to tear down their building (not yet at least) I do understand the needs of that type of attorney/client relationship. They certainly go beyond something static like a client who needs help incorporating a business or registering a trademark.
Attorneys in the media are frequently shown abstracting the legal issue from the clients themselves. They deal with their clients in a cold manner, and only really acknowledging the issue at hand. In reality, lawyers recognize (or should recognize) that with the problem they are trying to solve also comes a human being. Clients have friends, family, emotions, and a million other aspects to their life other than just their legal case. Taking all of these factors into consideration is imperative to successfully representing your client.
It takes a high level of compassion, ability to listen, and understanding to filter that into your dealings with the clients in order to represent them to the best of your ability. Clients in housing court are in danger of losing their homes; there are very few things more distressing than this. Their situation is delicate and sometimes they might just need someone to talk to who understands what’s going on. Elderly clients sometimes need a little bit more support than younger clients. They might require extra attention that is more in line with social work than legal work, but it can be necessary to ensure that they fully get back on their feet. Murdock and Nelson showed that they understood this. Karen and Foggy in particular showed an amazing level of dedication to Ms. Cardenas. They were willing to make home visits (something that my colleagues and myself frequently do) and were prepared to go beyond the call of the job to help Ms. Cardenas remain in her home.
I was excited to hear that Daredevil got renewed for a second season. The news didn’t come as much of a surprise, the series was a complete gamechanger for capes and tights TV shows. As much as I have a softspot for shows like Arrow, Daredevil proved that it’s in a totally different league. Aside from my hopes for villains (Typhoid Mary, please!), I’m really looking forward to seeing the firms interactions with their clients. This show did it right and I hope others follow suit. It’s about time us attorneys got portrayed positively in the media!
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