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Television’s Top Lawyers

Their cases are dramatic and make headlines. Their lives are glamorous and flawed. They deliver closing arguments with laser-like precision. They are television lawyers.
And although they are fictional characters, many have inspired countless others to pursue the degree that is the ticket into the profession.

Here’s a look at the best of the best–and what you can learn from each:

Perry Mason. With designer suits, slicked back hair, and the ability to deliver an unexpected perspective at just the right moment and with unmatched flair, Mason is the quintessential television lawyer. He is also the name, most people mention when they talk about lawyers–even today, 45 years after his show went off the air.

Jack McCoy. When your television show is replayed on cable 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, it’s hard not to become a household name. But what sets Jack McCoy of Law & Order’s fame apart from other television lawyers is was his ability to make the audience believe that he was truly incredulous with the criminals he was prosecuting. Murderers, rapists, and violent thugs didn’t stand a chance once McCoy found out about their behavior–and that’s why everyone loves him.

Elsbeth Tascioni. She’s smart. She’s strategic. She has morals. And she understands the plight of the average person–and she’s not above bending the rules from time to time to protect her loved ones. She is, of course, Elsbeth Tascioni from The Good Wife. Opposing counsel rarely stands a chance once she figures out the right thing to do, which is what makes her so good.

Ben Matlock. You probably never knew that his first name was Ben, and that’s OK. The only name that truly matters is his surname: Mattlock. It’s synonymous with cagey, clever crafty courtroom skills. No matter how well the suspect covered his or her tracks or how well people lied, Matlock was always able to get to the truth–mostly because he had a heart of gold and always tried to do the right thing.

Jackie Chiles. He was created in the likeness of Johnnie Cochran from the O.J. Simpson trial, and with good reason. Johnnie had flair and it paid off for his clients in the courtroom. Chiles had flair, too. And while it didn’t always pay off for his clients, it sure was entertaining to watch. And sometimes, as Cochran proved, simply coming up with a catch phrase can save your client.

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