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8 Legal Dramas I’m Binge-Watching this Summer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

There’s no time like summer break to whittle away your watchlist (only to add more to it, as is the natural course of things). As a pre-law student, it’s only natural for my interests to gravitate toward legal dramas, however inaccurate and unrealistic.

If you’re in the same boat as me, channel your inner Elle Woods with these eight iconic pieces of media. 

“Goliath”

In this series, Billy McBride is desperate to relieve his guilty conscience. A once-successful lawyer who fell from grace and became an alcoholic after acquitting a murderer, he decides to take on a wrongful death lawsuit against his former, and now corrupt, firm.

Perhaps like David defeating the giant Goliath with his sling and stone, McBride represents the hero protecting vulnerable innocents against an all-powerful foe by staying true to his principles. 

Check out the trailer!
“The Practice”

Taking place in Boston (as it seems all legal dramas do), “The Practice” tells the story of senior partner Bobby Donnell struggling to lift his firm off the ground. An attention-grabbing drama series, it reflects the flaws of human nature, displays situations involving affairs, features murder trials and involves a revolving door of associates threatening his firm’s success. 

Check out a clip of the show!

If you’re a binge-watcher like me, no worries. Just check out its spinoff series focusing on the same key characters, “Boston Legal.” 

“Better Call Saul”

I’d be remiss not to include this gem of a show. Maybe I’m a little biased as a “Breaking Bad” fanatic, but this spinoff is just as iconic, and for good reason. It revolves around Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) through his rise and fall in the legal ranks.

From the pilot episode, it’s clear his defense style is anything but conventional; McGill somehow always finds himself embroiled in illegal activity (that may or may not involve a certain chemistry teacher and his meth empire). 

The writing is also phenomenal: you watch events unravel before your eyes but don’t realize the intentions behind the characters’ actions until much later. In the end, however, it all comes together into a perfectly complex storyline. Bonus points for featuring Lalo Salamanca in all his charismatic, yet maniacal glory.

“The Grinder”

We all know how heavy the law can be in real life, so it’s nice to sit back and enjoy a comedic spin on the field every once in a while. While it focuses on the more serious themes of strained sibling rivalries, “The Grinder” is a comedy at its core. It follows the story of TV lawyer Dean Sanderson Jr., who joins his family’s firm despite having never practiced law in the real world. Even with his lack of education in the field, his charisma carries him through the courtroom. 

Check out a clip of the show!
“Ally McBeal”

This drama is for all the rom-com lovers out there, with just a little 90s nostalgia sprinkled in. Lawyer Ally McBeal joins yet another British law firm, Cage & Fish, only to discover that her ex-boyfriend and his new wife are also working there. Drama ensues. 

Be warned that this show seems to tread more on the controversial side. Aired from 1997 to 2002, it is certainly a product of its time, and some of its themes may reflect that. 

Check out the trailer!
“The Lincoln Lawyer”

Shifting gears to films, this legal drama is based on Michael Connelly’s novel. It follows defense attorney Mick Haller’s fight against judicial corruption in a supposedly fair and equal system.

Starting off as a struggling lawyer who advocates for street criminals, Haller turns his attention to a promising murder case with a wealthy, high-profile client. Upon discovering the truth of this too-good-to-be-true opportunity, Haller remembers his origins: fighting for the little guy. 

Check out the trailer!
“My Cousin Vinny”

Another 90s comedy classic, woefully underqualified lawyer Vinny Gambini defends two young suspects in an Alabama murder case. As a New York native, he is unfamiliar with Southern courtroom etiquette.

If you take anything away from legal dramas, it should be that lawyers can talk their way out of just about every situation, and Vinny does just that. 

Check out the trailer!
“Legally Blonde”

We’re ending on a strong note — here’s to all the aspiring female lawyers! You just can’t not watch this movie. 

Elle Woods, a brilliant young woman, earns her way into Harvard Law School to prove her ex-boyfriend wrong (and hopefully win him back). Yet for all her accomplishments, he continues to tear her down by questioning her intelligence and capabilities at every turn. 

She proves her worth to herself in the end — arguably the only person whose opinion truly matters. She brings her knowledge of fashion and cosmetology to the courtroom, helping her win a case as a legal intern. 

And the best part about it? Women support women. All of Elle’s friends support her throughout her journey and she even becomes friends with her ex-boyfriend’s (now former) fiancé. 

Check out the trailer!

Between LSAT study sessions and internship searches, make sure to carve out some time to wind down too. Just remember not to take any legal advice from these shows and movies, or else you might find yourself in a sticky situation you can’t weasel your way out of.

Michelle Wang is an Ohio State pre-law student majoring in Criminology and History. Beyond academics, her interests include creative writing, Wushu, Korean- and Mandopop and all things history (with a particular fondness for Tudor England). She hopes to share her love for writing in all its mediums!