The first made for TV lawyer movie, and it was right on the mark
When The Law came out, there was no made-for-TV movie that presented the system with all its human flaws, flaws that make the system human. Before was Perry Mason and The Defenders, but they showed the system in an unrealistic light. The defense lawyers were nearly perfect. Perry Mason was much maligned, but his clients (all but one were innocent). Hamilton Burger accused Mason of all kinds of misdeeds, and he never got it that the "showmanship" he railed against was always part of the process to show the client was innocent. In the Law, we have a dedicated public defendant who cannot let go of the one client he has that is innocent. A franchise lawyer seizes the client through the mother, and the lawyer is about to plead the client guilty to make a book contract fatter. He has to fight and cut a corner or two to get the client back to be sure that the client gets the best defense, which, it turns out, comes from the beleagured public defender. The client walks without a trial. And that is the point--there is no trial, no courtroom tricks or confessions. The whole story takes place as the State's case comes together then collapses. The innocent client and his struggling lawyer find the occasional needle in the haystack of justice. I was a lawyer only a year when The Law first played, and I marvelled at how it captured the essence of the criminal justice system: Venal judges, prosecutors seeking notches in their political gunbelt, overworked public defenders trying to rise above it all (I was a prosecutor at the time). About five years later, I was lucky enough to tape it. I haven't seen it in at least ten years. It probably no longer shows because of its age, but, of all the shows to have come before or since, none measures up to its realism.
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