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OK. I’ll admit it. I’ve been watching a lot of lawyer TV shows lately. I got the flu, see, and had to take a few days off from work, and the medicine kind of messed up my higher brain functions (to the extent I still have any) and the shows were … well … there. Lurking. But even through my analgesic-induced stupor, I noticed that there still are just a few reality issues here and there in the new generation of lawyer shows that need to be ironed out so people will really understand what our lives are like. Massively unreal thing No. 1: TV lawyers don’t bring stuff to court. They walk in, sit down and maybe, if it’s a super realistic show like “Ally McBeal,” they have portfolios and pens. That’s all. Personally, I can’t go to a motion hearing, let alone a trial, without essential items all within easy reach and on carts pulled by legions of $100,000-a-year teamsters … oops, associates: six years of correspondence concerning the date for the plaintiff’s deposition; copies of all 82 motions for continuance filed in the case; three drafts of everything; at least two dozen extra copies of all my exhibits, including the ones I already know the judge won’t let in; a volume of Corpus Juris Secundum (because you just never know when you’ll need a large blue book as a prop); enough extra pads and supplies to write “War and Peace”; and dozens of blow-ups I’ll never use. (I used to know a bailiff in Harris County who insulated his attic with foam core demonstrative aids left at the courthouse by lawyers. It didn’t take him long to get it to R-12,000. True story.) Massively unreal thing No. 2: TV law offices have no paper in them. Anywhere. No half-opened banker’s boxes of documents. No files piled on chairs. No phone message slips cluttering up a desk. No research print-outs, faxes, copies of the ABA Journal, billing memos, CLE advertisements, Post-Its, food wrappers or gratuitous credit card solicitations. Zilch. Zero. Zip. Nada. My first boss saved every pink phone message he’d ever gotten over about 40 years of practicing on those message spikes. He had about 15 spikes full of them strategically placed on chairs and counters in his office and claimed to be able to find any phone number he needed because he knew what was on each spike. I think he was just trying to keep people from sitting down. Massively unreal thing No. 3: TV lawyers don’t go to court. They just materialize there. One minute they’re in their office and then — poof — they’re at a courthouse. Oh sure, they occasionally turn up on the courthouse steps to give sound bytes or show off their stylish profiles or something, but even then it’s sound byte — poof — gone. Do you ever see TV lawyers messing around trying to find a parking space? Of course not. You can’t even tell me what kind of car Angie Harmon drives. Other massively unreal things I noticed: On TV, the courthouse elevators work. This is a complete fantasy. We could never do a one-hour show set in most real courthouses I know because about 58.9 minutes of it would be spent waiting for the elevator. On TV, there are no security issues. You never see the cast of “The Practice” getting in trouble because some rent-a-guard thinks a miniature Swiss Army knife on a key chain is an imminent threat to courthouse security, as one guard did when he confiscated mine. On TV, lawyers do not have an education, and they do not belong to lawyer groups. We know this because unlike real lawyers, TV lawyers do not have arrays of diplomas, bar licenses, membership certificates and similar stuff hanging on their office walls. This could mean that there are no custom framing shops in TV lawyer world, though. On TV, lawyers do not have e-mail and thus do not have access to incredibly important e-stuff like “Gerbil in the Microwave” or the “I Love You virus” or pictures of Elian Gonzales in a closet with Michael Jackson. Although, now that I think about it, that may have been a plot line on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” I was pretty groggy and can’t remember for sure. Instead of using e-mail, TV lawyers must spend their time gossiping face-to-face, which encourages plot development. So this may not be such a bad thing after all. That’s about all I can think of. It’s totally realistic for a small firm to pack up everybody, even the one person who answers the phone, fly across country, stay in a stylish hotel and put on a massive criminal trial on a moment’s notice without worrying about pesky little details like retainers. That’s what they did on “The Practice.” And, of course, murder by breast suffocation, failed lip enlargements and choosing who is going to choreograph the next birthday party are things we attorneys confront every day, just like on “Ally.” I only wish the TV people would get those last few details right. Then people would know what it’s really like. Tom Alleman, a shareholder in Winstead Sechrest & Minick in Dallas, believes that “My Cousin Vinnie” is just about the best lawyer movie ever made. With opinions like this, it ought to be obvious that his opinions in this column aren’t necessarily those of Winstead Sechrest & Minick, its clients or, for that matter, Joe Pesci.

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