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Making A Lawyer-er


When you’re studying for the LSAT, you have to maintain a good work-work balance. Like, don’t spend all your time studying for the Reading Comprehension section. Also study for Logic Games. Don’t spend all your time doing practice tests. Also spend time perseverating about your time management. Balance.

Sometimes, you should even take a break or two. Kick back and watch some TV. And when you do, make sure it’s a lawyer show!

The courtroom thriller of the season (setting aside that new Juice docudrama) is “Making a Murderer.” The show tells the true story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was in prison for 18 years for a rape he didn’t commit, only to be indicted two years later for murder. I won’t say more about the plot, except that it’s incredibly gripping, and will leave you with lots of questions.

The show is not just a true-crime whodunit, though. More interesting than its twists and turns is its insight into the criminal justice system. For that reason, it should be required viewing for prospective law students.

At the center of the show are two defense attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, who heroically argue Avery’s case. They won the internet’s heart, and mine too. I know that’s not really the point of the show. But they got me thinking about what kind of lawyer I would want to be (if I quit dragging my feet and just became a lawyer).

Strang told a newspaper in 2007, “If you really have the heart and the soul of a criminal defense lawyer, this is where you want to be and you feel like you got privileged because you’ve been chosen to do it.”

I was struck by that remark. Under the adversarial system, each side argues its case as convincingly as possible, and the net outcome is hopefully a reasonably close approximation of justice. But for Strang, defending clients is not just a function, but a calling.

What does it mean to have the heart and soul of a defense attorney?

What does it mean to have the heart and soul of a prosecutor, or a judge, or an arbitrator?

Which do you have?

These are questions you can ponder as you watch “Making a Murderer.” So you should check it out. The show offers an engrossing and guilt-free break from your studies.