David Ray Papke, Marquette University Law School, is publishing American Lawyer and Courtroom Comedies in Oxford Research Encyclopedias (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
This essay surveys the surprisingly large amount of law-related American popular culture that is comedic. Comedies in general are narratives in which the characters’ dilemmas will work themselves out, and readers and viewers of comedies know in advance that no great disaster will interfere with their enjoyment of a comedic work. Comedies featuring portrayals of amusing lawyers and/or accounts of hilarious trials are common in inexpensive literary works, Hollywood films, and television series, although these media have different imperatives and proffer various types of comedy. Overall, lawyer and courtroom comedies are intended to entertain and distract, but some lawyers and courtroom comedies also appreciate the public’s resentment of the legal profession and the courts and intentionally satirize these important and much-valorized legal institutions.Download the essay from SSRN at the link.