If you’ve never personally used a lawyer before, you likely base your expectations on what you’ve seen in movies and TV shows. Courtroom drama can certainly make for an entertaining story, but it often plays loose with the facts.
Should you find yourself in need of legal assistance, you might be surprised by just how different the actual legal process is. Here are a few of the myths TV shows and movies have helped popularize when it comes to lawyers and courtrooms.
In a movie, you’ll see one court session after another where tension mounts, witnesses are questioned, and the truth begins to reveal itself through testimony and the revelation of cold, hard facts. The viewer is left thinking that when a lawyer takes a case, the majority of their time is spent in court after that.
The truth is, most of their time is spent in offices and meeting rooms. Law books and case histories are read, briefings are written, legal teams meet and discuss. It’s a lot of research, paperwork, and planning.
That’s not something that can easily be made exciting on the screen.
That said, if you watch the recent The People vs. OJ Simpson TV series, you do get a slightly more in-depth look at this process than you’d typically see in a movie. The attorneys are often locked away in their offices with boxes of paperwork and stacks of books.
This is closer to the truth.
After reading the first point, this might not come as much of a surprise. All of that research and planning takes time. For big cases, there are multiple hearings, all of which have to be scheduled. Before that can even happen, the initial hearing has to be set, which can take months or more.
It can take over two years just to try a murder case.
There’s a lot of people involved in making a court case happen, especially if it’s a jury trial. The process takes time. Courtrooms are not typically fast pace, and the more complex the situation is, the longer the trial can take.
In the movies, the first court session or two is usually quite civilized. But as we head towards the end of the story, the lawyers on both sides start to become very passionate, shouting objections, treating the witness as hostile, and scolding the judge.
These types of theatrics are very rare, and should they happen too frequently, can lead to a lawyer being dismissed from the court and from the case. A courtroom is a place of order and proper conduct, and for the most part, lawyers act accordingly.
In a movie, there are maybe two types of lawyers. The good, honest small-time lawyer who stands up for what’s right and the sleezy, selfish lawyer who wants to make money regardless of whether their client is innocent or guilty.
Other than that, these lawyers are virtually the same in terms of skill, education, and capabilities.
The truth is, lawyers are much more nuanced, specializing in specific areas. There are attorneys who never see the inside of a courtroom. There are attorneys who never work criminal cases or only handle estate related matters.
Lawyers tend to specialize in specific areas because the law is vast and complex. By narrowing their focus, they’re able to be stronger in those areas. That means if you need to choose a lawyer, you should choose one experienced in the area you need them for.
At Michael T. Edwards, our Springfield attorneys are highly experienced in family law, criminal law, personal injury, and estate planning. If you need legal assistance, we’re here for you.
It might not playout like what you see in the movies, but with Michael T. Edwards on your case, you’re in good hands.