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Sure, when you squint it looks awfully similar to “The Apprentice,” and yes, Thursday’s cases were straight out of Judge Wapner’s courtroom, but NBC’s “The Law Firm” has something no other reality TV show has: a behind-the-scenes look at real trial lawyers in action on real cases. Twelve young litigators will try each week to turn their appearances into real-world proof of their legal acumen. And at the end of eight episodes, one of them walks away with $250,000 and the ego to match. Host Roy Black, no stranger to big cases or big egos, calls himself the “managing partner” on “The Law Firm” and is in charge of doling out assignments and dismissals. At the end of Thursday’s episode, the Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf partner told the contestants where they had gone wrong and how he would have litigated their cases differently. And what cases they were. One was a bench trial over a woman’s dog (now three-legged) that she claimed was attacked by her neighbor’s mastiffs. She was seeking payment for the vet bills. The other was an arbitration involving a county coroner who decided to play police officer and pull over a woman who he determined was speeding. She sued for emotional distress after finding out much later that he wasn’t a cop. Black divided the lawyer-contestants into plaintiff and defense teams and told them what he expected: “The only thing I’m interested in is how you can perform under the stress of a real courtroom.” The reality TV plaintiff bar can do some celebrating after Thursday night’s pouncing of the defense. Even a non-J.D. could see the blunders and missteps. There was Kelly Chang, who does personal-injury and medical-malpractice litigation at a small L.A. firm, who could barely iterate a sentence during her opening statement in front of the arbitrator. And there was Jason Adams, a partner in a Ventura, Calif.-based personal-injury and construction-defect firm, who attempted to get a witness’ statement that was beneficial to his side stricken from the record. At the end of the day, both of them were let go. Of the 10 lawyers left, eight are members of the California State Bar, seven live in or around Los Angeles, five are women, two are criminal defense attorneys and one of them is bound to be driving us crazy next week.

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