Everyone loves a great criminal thriller, a cop show, a forensic mystery. Many people may go so far as to jokingly refer to themselves as “legal experts,” due to the hours logged “binge watching” such programs. However, we at Montagna Law are here to assure you that there is no such thing as a true “Legal Expert.” There are many discrepancies between real-life lawyers and the powerhouses who dominate the courtrooms on television. Take our little quiz below and see if you can tell the fact from the fiction.
One of the main discrepancies between real life and television is the lack (or rather abundance) of practice areas. On television and in movies, lawyers seem like experts…on everything. They know all there is to know about each and every aspect of the law – and practice them all, too.
2. Attorneys and lawyers make tons of money and spend it (along with all their time) at fancy restaurants and VIP clubs.
Another Hollywood presumption is that all lawyers make the same substantial salaries, and live the same extravagant lifestyles. The truth is that while some lawyers certainly earn significant wages, others pull in far less. The income of an attorney depends on his or her position in the company, areas of practice and even length of time employed, along with many other factors. Additionally, law school results in student loans, just like any other career education. Many attorneys are struggling to pay off their school loans, just like you.
FACT: However, many attorneys might find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time at aforementioned restaurants or social events. The reasons for such appointments are likely unexpected: meetings, retreats or tickets through the firm for a client’s event, etc.
3. Drama in the office, passion in the stairwell and unexpected revelations in the courtroom!
Sensationalized programs and theatrical features present the legal profession as lots of whirlwind activity: rushing from a hearing at the courthouse to the jail to grab a quick confession to lunch with friends then back to the court for a secret tryst in the broom closet before a trial in which everyone is to blame and somebody gets shot.
In reality, a day in the life of a lawyer mainly consists of sitting in front of a computer screen, just like the rest of the working world. We type up memos and briefs (many of which are anything but brief!) and we probably take some work home at night, too. That’s not to say that some of the drama is spot-on, or at least, misplaced. Rather than take place at work, any drama is more likely to come in the form of a loved one who has been disappointed by the absence of the lawyer in their lives.
4. Cases are often closed on the same day/week/year of which they were opened.
FICTION: Many cases take YEARS to close.
5. “Lawyering Up” is only done by the guilty.
In truth, being questioned by detectives would likely frighten anyone. Asking for a lawyer is not something that is only done by the “bad guy,” it is also done by the cautious, the scared and even the innocent.
FICTION: On television, asking for a lawyer essentially ends the investigation, which is why the tv police use delay tactics of ever-increasing insanity to prevent such a request.
6. DNA, Forensics and Physical evidence offer irrefutable proof of what has happened.
While physical evidence is never something to be ignored, witness testimony is often more powerful in real life.
7. The Bad Guy Always Confesses.
8. Lawyers are saints…or demons.
This is, of course, dependent upon the person behind the law degree. Just like a superhero, lawyers can use their powers for good or evil. We at Montagna Law choose to use ours for YOU. Call today for a free legal consultation with the real life lawyers who mean business.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.