Our April 2002 cover explored lawyers as that most western of American heroes. Is it time to heroicize practice areas?
Get ready, you estate planning attorneys: Your 15 minutes may be starting soon. And yes, that would be a shift.
Years ago, when I worked at large law firms in Chicago, the cowboys were the trial lawyers, along with the M&A attorneys (yes, it was the ‘80s, and M&A stirred the blood). Their work was on display everywhere you looked, either in the hallway whoops as verdicts came in or deals were sealed, or in the daily newspapers, which cheerily carried the exploits of each.
Meanwhile, to continue the western analogue, the ranchers and farmers were the considerably more reserved practice areas. Among them were the wills and estates lawyers. Their well-crafted work product was never on display, but was kept in a well-ventilated secured area, exhumed only upon the occasion of a client’s death.
The bloom may be off the M&A rose, but I’d wager the overall comparison may continue today. But a recent NPR story suggests a way that estates folks may emerge from the trustworthy world of trusts. It may be crazysexycool time for them.
The story examines the Danish TV series called The Legacy. The tale of an extended family and its exploits features the risks of leaving unclear your life’s desire for the distribution of assets.
Denmark, known for butter cookies, beer and Legos, can now add estate planning to its admirable traits.
Of course, soap operas for millennia have mined the rich veins of greed and betrayal. But so well done is the series, we are told, that it has become a boon for family lawyers who do wills.
Here is the NPR transcript and audio. (I urge radio folks to dispense with that annoying phrase “Take a listen,” which has led me to change stations more than once.)
For more on the series, head over to IMDB.
Now, I am willing to bet that you’re thinking, What works in Denmark may not work here in the United States (except for Legos, beer and Bang & Olufsen speakers). But (bear with me now): What if someone took this knowledge and turned it toward the benefit of other underserved practice areas?
Why couldn’t a talented someone (What? Me? No! Really?!) channel those talents into a series of films that exposed the beating heart that lies beneath legal niches?
Aviation attorneys winging their way to viewers’ souls. Construction-defect lawyers offering solid heroism on foundations’ shifting sands. Tax lawyers adding to your pleasure while finding deductions that bolster your bottom line. Bond lawyers (OK, I’m reaching here) who offer a steely gaze as they introduce themselves: “Bond. Municipal Bond.”
Sure, details must be worked out, financing arranged. But pretty soon I’ll have worked up a few treatments and be ready to take a meeting or three. All in service to lawyers, soon to be immortalized on-screen.
Which practice areas should be our chapter one? Let me know; there may be a producer credit in it for you.