The winter months in Minnesota are tough, even for a born Minnesotan like myself. Most of us hunker down inside our homes and avoid going outside at all costs. What do we do with all this spare time? We read books, watch TV, listen to podcasts and stream Netflix on our Ipads to pass away the days of cold. Since I’m stuck inside with my family, shouldn’t I get some credit for explaining to my family that in the real world forensic scientists don’t get GSR results instantly. Well, no, but here are some tips on how to make that entertainment more work. Yes, with winter sucking the fun out of your outdoor entertainment, here are tips on how to suck all the fun out of your indoor entertainment. But lets face it, if we didn’t get enjoyment out of trying to make everything a learning experience, we wouldn’t be law students and new attorneys.
Law & Order on BBC America. This is my favorite new show. Many of the story lines are from American Law & Order episodes so if you are a Law & Order junkie you may know what happens in the end. Play – I spy – and spot the differences between the U.S. and British legal systems. How many can you spot in an episode?
Judge Judy. Judge Joe Brown. People’s Court. etc. etc. etc. These shows are all over TV and there must be a new judge every six months. These shows can be somewhat painful to watch but see if you can predict the judge’s ruling (and see how many correct conclusions the judges make). Your non-lawyer friends will think you are psychic!
Parks & Recreation. Many lawyers are also political hacks. For those of you that are, NBC’s Parks & Recreation is just for you (new episodes starting Jan. 20). Jokes based on obscure political scandals, government-worker stereotypes and the legal underpinnings of local government. What more could you ask for?
Law & Order. Law & Order SVU. CSI. CSI Miami. Criminal Minds. Damages… and all those others. My family especially enjoys these new and in syndication police/law shows. I generally get questions about how stuff works. Watching an episode or two will help you learn what potential jurors, your family and you friends think your job is, and then you can explain to them how different the real world actually is.
Check out the ABA’s List of the 25 Greatest Legal TV Shows to see if your favorite is on the list.
I could talk about my favorites but instead I’ll just list the best lists I’ve seen:
The ABA’s List of the 25 Greatest Legal Movies to see if your favorites are on the list or this great list of Law Related Movies Every US Law Student Should See.
Legal movies tend to have dramatic and drawn out openings, witness questioning, or closings. “I want the truth. You can’t handle the truth.” Although seldom is there this much drama in real life court, since you will be quoting the best lines to your legal friends anyway, try Demosthenes speech practices and see who is the best. The Internets says that a common American past-time was to go watch speeches and then copy and practice them. So why not try to impress your legal friends with your oratory skills by reciting famous movie speeches with a marble or a couple of saltines in your mouth.
Amongst the millions of books you can read, a list is difficult to find. So pick a genre you like and pull a legally-related book from it. I’m a sucker for a good biography but perhaps you like Crime Novels or Science Fiction lawyer books. Don’t know what you like? Check out these lists.
A list for all. 50 Best Legal Novels for Both Lawyers and Laymen
A list only a lawyer could love. Nine Must-Read Legal Books and One Essential Legal Blog
Gotta have the newest things? Pick your book off this list of the 2010 Top Ten Must-Reads in the Law
If you like lists, this book is for you. A book of Legal Lists: The Best and Worst in American Law
A great thing about some books – you can get CLE credit! Watch your email or snail mail, the HCBA does Law & Literature CLEs throughout the year. You can also listen to books on your way to work on CD, cassette tape (yes you can still find cassette books on tape) your Ipod, or download the books to your reader.
JUDGE JOHN HODGMAN. For those of you who enjoy the nerdiest of the Daily Show correspondents and the PC guy on the Mac-PC commercials, John Hodgman is your guy. He takes up important issues of our times such as where should Jeffrey the Giraffe, a toy picked up on a trip and loved by college roommates, go now that the two live far apart. Besides the humor, take a guess at what the judge will rule. For a comedian, he seems to IRAC decently and comes up with legally reasonable conclusions.
LEGAL LAD. Legal lad is a nice and short podcast that discusses all legal issues under the sun. It is part of a greater group of podcasts called Quick and Dirty Tips. You can listen online if you don’t have ITunes. You can use these tips to impress your partner, show off to friends, or just gain a greater understanding for the wonderful complexities of American law. I’m also a listener of grammar girl and the public speaker.
THE MINNESOTA JUDICIAL PODCAST. Yes, that is right, our judicial branch has a podcast. It may not be as humorous as other podcasts, but it provides a lot of information in a short amount of time and lets listeners get to know their judges.
ESI Bytes: A free resource on electronic discovery to help new and old attorneys navigate through the new and sometimes confusing world of electronic discovery.
On the Internet, you can watch TV and movies, read books and listen to podcasts. Additionally, you can study things not to do as lawyers. Things like don’t get drunk at noon, leave the scene of an accident and then lie to a judge or don’t explain what a genius you are and how all the ladies love you when looking for a job. There are plenty of websites on what to do, but those aren’t nearly as fun.
Happy Winter 2011 New Lawyers! Got a legal must read, must watch, or must listen? Make sure to comment below.