Is the Profession’s Image Problem the Result of TV?

Tired of being stereotyped as unscrupulous, lawyers are taking aim at the television industry that portrays them as such. Michael Asimow, a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Law recently moderated a panel discussion with television writers at an American Bar Association meeting. Asimow said that he believes that lawyers’ deteriorating public image is at least partly the result of how they are portrayed on TV.

The CSI effect, or the belief that evidence and clues are obtained in the same fashion as they have in CSI or other law series, have also played a part in shading perceptions for how the legal system works. Asimow contends that lawyers now have to re-educate juries and explain that cases in a real courtroom differ with how they unfold on TV.

Of course some writers disagree with Asimow’s conjecture. Charles Rosenberg a writer for the popular show Boston Legal and a partner at Rosenberg, Mendlin & Rosen, said, “I don’t think it’s the writers’ responsibility to make anyone look good, The writers’ responsibility is to entertain audiences within reasonable ethical boundaries, something for writers and producers to decide.”

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