Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have become pop culture phenomenon’s on Netflix. One of the characters is the sleazy money hungry lawyer called Saul. He wears the car salesman suit and fits the obnoxious mold that we expect attorneys to have. He even has this endearing side and line of ethics that he will not cross, although he always tries to figure out a way to get what he wants without getting himself in trouble.
As a lawyer, I can appreciate why people have stereotyped us, and why the show portrays Saul that way. The purpose of this blog is not to rehabilitate our reputation. If you ever find yourself in a situation to hire us, you can decide for yourself how we really behave. What this blog is really about are a few things that get under my skin when TV tries to portray what lawyers actually do.
1.Saul repeatedly refers to his hourly billing rate in Breaking Bad. In that particular show he is an injury attorney, criminal defense attorney, and even a bit of a criminal himself with his money laundering activities. Not one of those areas of law really lend themselves to hourly billing. Those of us lawyers who do personal injury in Mississippi day in and day out, do not bill by the hour. For injury cases in Mississippi we handle them on a contingency fee and for criminal cases in Mississippi, we usually charge a flat fee. I’m not saying hourly would be out of the question, but it would be unusual. And hopefully participating in crimes is always out of the question. Next time you run across an injury/criminal lawyer in Mississippi and decide to break the ice with a solid lawyer joke, try to avoid a crack about the billable rate. It doesn’t resonate with actual lawyers.
2.Saul is portrayed in one of the episodes of his namesake getting sick in the bathroom and practicing his argument as he paces in front of the urinal. This may not be all that far-fetched, but what is crazy is that the show portrays the jury in the box staring at an empty podium while this is going on. No Judge would ever keep a jury sitting in the courtroom while the lawyers are taking a restroom break. There are a lot of things in the courtroom that juries are not present for. For example, during the jury selection process, lawyers get a chance to strike some jurors or argue that they are not fit to serve. This is never done in front of the jury. Legal arguments to the court are not done in front of the jury. And certainly the jury is not made to sit still while the lawyers take a bathroom break. During breaks for legal arguments or otherwise, the jury would be in the jury room and isolated from whatever is happening or not happening in the courtroom.
3.Saul is portrayed as a flashy advertiser. His slogan is “better call Saul.” We all know this is actually a realistic possibility for the way a lawyer might advertise. But there was an episode where a plane crash occurred and Saul advertised for clients who may have seen plane parts falling and they could sue for pain and suffering just for seeing it. That’s silly and the law does not allow someone to make a claim just because they saw a plane part coming out of the sky. Under common law all across this country, if you want to make a claim for pain and suffering, you have to also have been physically injured yourself. Watching someone else get hurt does not, in most circumstances, also give you a right to make a claim. And no lawyer in their right mind would advertise to get bystanders to an accident as clients.
I could go on about the inaccuracies about lawyers that are portrayed in this and many other shows, but you get the idea. The general public has its ideas about what lawyers do, and TV producers and writers do their best to feed into what they think you know and want to see. But if you are looking for a Mississippi lawyer in real life that is honest, works hard, doesn’t play games, and is actually knowledgeable about the areas of personal injury, workers compensation, social security disability, criminal defense, immigration, or even family law give us a shout at Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A.. We will consult for free and won’t bill you by the hour, we will be in the courtroom when the jury is in the box, and we promise to never advertise for frivolous claims.
Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. is a Mississippi area law firm that is founded upon the belief that everyone is entitled to quality representation and access to their attorney. We are dedicated to helping individuals and families harmed by someone else’s negligence or by a dangerous product. Our entire practice here at our firm is exclusively dedicated to helping individuals and not corporations and big business. Our personal injury attorneys work tirelessly to level the playing field against big insurance companies. Insurance companies have defense attorneys who will do everything they can to limit your financial recovery; we do everything we can to maximize it. Our practice areas include Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury, Car Wrecks and 18 Wheeler Accidents, Medical Negligence, Consumer Fraud, Products Liability, Offshore Injuries, Premises Liability such as Slip and Falls, Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse, Flood Damage Relief, and many Mass Tort related cases as well as Immigration Law. If you have been injured on the job or by someone’s negligence, call our law firm today by dialing 601-948-8005.