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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


After watching the series premiere of the new legal drama The Deep End, I have a few thoughts (beware of spoilers!):

1. The paralegal does have amazing hair. It must take hours to fix.

2. The paralegal did not choose her career. Apparently she has failed the bar exam... multiple times. Probably because she spent more time on her hair than her prep courses. (Can you blame her?) Still, I know I should understand that it's too much to ask that the writers create a paralegal who is at least slightly empowered in her field (although perhaps not in her personal life... that would be no fun). But I wish someone would.

3. In the magical world of television, an ex parte meeting with a judge to discuss your trial strategy in the case you have before him is perfectly ethical. He will even tell you his ruling before notifying the other party or entering the order.

4. E-filing does not exist in this world. Instead, partners send first-year associates (not runners or assistants) downtown to the courthouse to file motions. Or perhaps e-filing does exist, but the partners just enjoy torturing the associates with tedious and fruitless errands.

5. The writing shows very little personality so far, but one or two of the characters, namely the women, show promise. While the men seem flat and predictable, the women characters may harbor some surprises.

6. The show does reinforce the perception (whether right or wrong, I suppose it depends on the firm) of law firms as career fraternities where newbies are hazed unapologetically by the more seasoned guys and gals.

7. This law firm is not as cool as it first appears. Within the first fifteen minutes, we see a mother meeting with one of the first-years to discuss her case, when a receptionist walks in with the woman's son, reprimanding the woman for her son's presence at the firm. So Sterling's client-relations need a bit of work.

8. While I like the looks of their law library, I believe that the majority of young lawyers and paralegals do their research online, or at least on the computer, these days. It looked impressive to show them reading actual books in the library, but since cases in television land are prepped and tried within minutes, I bet online research would be much more time effective for our fictional foursome.

9. Conflicts of interest are never a big deal in television law firms. They barely even acknowledge them.

10. Of course the first thing a high end firm does with its brand new associates in their first week is give them cases to complete on their own with absolutely no guidance. In television world, everything works out well for the clients.

11. Apparently these lawyers don't understand good client communication. Revealing something to your client for the first time while in a meeting with the other side, while it works in television world, is probably not the best idea. It's probably better to let the client in on the news before telling the other side.

But enough with all of my cynical, critical, nit-picking. A show doesn't have to follow real-life rules in order to gain and keep viewers. If it did, medical shows wouldn't always be able to rely on CPR and defibrillators to bring patients back to life.

With that being said, I look forward to next week's episode of The Deep End before rendering my verdict on its potential.


  1. Great post, Melisssa. I have not seen this show and now I don't have to!

    Good television does have to take some liberties with reality, but many legal, medical, police, etc., shows have "technical advisors" that help alleviate the most obvious disconnects. In theory the greater authenticity makes for more gripping drama.

    It continues to amaze me how often clients come into the office actually thinking their cases will play out the way they do on "L.A. Law," "Law and Order," etc. It can be a real problem for paralegals who have to inform the client of the reality - as you noted in a recent post.

    I am considering a course on the role of the paralegal as portrayed on big and small screens from Perry Mason's Della Streetthrough Erin Brockovich - maybe Danny Devito in "Rainman" - to recent entries like "Deep End." The television shows are difficult because it means I may have to watch them. So let me know whether the class should jump into the "Deep End." Suggestions of other films and shows would also be welcome.

  2. Melissa, thank you. I am tryin' so freakin' hard not to watch this show, although it has certainly provided fodder for entertaining "Katie the paralegal" posts :)

  3. Melissa:

    I have to agree with you! I will tolerate it for one more week, just to see our fellow Tweep Brian Cuban in his unsung cameo role as a nameless FBI agent.