Sometimes it’s time to confront the major issues in life head on. This month, partner Les Allen explores law in its most visceral state and answers the question posed by more Gaze Burt clients than any other over the last year: Is legal practice, as portrayed by hit series Suits and many others, true to life?
For those who haven’t seen it Suits, now with over 100 episodes, is set in a plush New York skyscraper and largely features lawyers Harvey Specter, a ruthless deal maker, Mike Ross, a young genius armed with a photographic memory and a fake law degree from Harvard University, and Louis Litt, an abrasive tax lawyer. So could they survive as lawyers in this country? And would they even want to, if it meant helping their clients deal with New Zealand’s government departments and employment laws?
Having analysed these issues intensively we think we can safely say that:
- They could only handle criminal cases if they could avoid the clutches of our legal aid system by having a steady supply of wealthy serial killers, a demographic in which Gaze Burt has never been able to build up a loyal client base.
- They would all struggle to adapt to life in a real law firm as they have never had to look after more than one client at a time. Why do New York lawyers never have to meet the competing demands of numerous clients all needing their work done at the same time?
- Naturally Harvey Specter needs space in his office for several couches, his record collection and his mounted set of baseballs and basketballs autographed by celebrities such as Michael Jordan. There’s only one office here big enough for Harvey Specter’s collections and I’m not sharing it with him. He would make an unbearable work colleague.
- The salary for Harvey Specter’s chauffeur, even at minimum rates, would erode the firm’s profits as well. With Harvey’s BMW spending most of its time motionless at the traffic lights littered all around Auckland, his petrol costs would be astronomical.
- Apart from Mike Ross who can spend an entire night trawling through a roomful of documents only to emerge with the one key document, none of the others seems to deal with a single piece of paper. They would be completely overwhelmed by the waves of emails, letters, phone calls and client meetings in a real law firm.
- They couldn’t discuss their clients’ most confidential secrets while striding down the hallway and gazing soulfully into the camera. This might make compelling television and the long shots beloved by film directors, but lawyers wanting to discuss a difficult issue usually do so while behind closed doors, or at least without sprinting from one side of the office to another. They’re not Steve Jobs.
- Harvey Specter would be fined by the Law Society every week for new varieties of disgraceful or dishonourable conduct under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act.
- We are reliably informed that few legal secretaries in Auckland could afford the designer clothing of Harvey’s longsuffering secretary Donna.
So is Suits authentic? It might be more accurate to say that it is faster moving than real law (unfortunately there can only be so many mergers and murders in 45 minutes), more glamorous than the life of a humble Auckland lawyer and far more addictive. However, we’re confident we have the edge when it comes to supplying actual legal advice, so give us a call if Suits leaves you with more questions than answers about your particular situation.