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Top 10 Television Lawyers

VO: Dan Paradis
Some are honest, some are opportunistic and others are criminals themselves. Television is filled with lawyers who either defend the innocent, convict the guilty or use their power for personal gain. Just to be clear, we’ve decided to focus on the small screen lawyers that stick in our minds, from the passionate like Perry Mason to the absolutely nutty and incompetent like Seinfeld's Jackie Chiles. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 television lawyers.

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Top 10 Television Lawyers

Moral compass not necessarily included. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 television lawyers.

Just to be clear, we’ve decided to focus on the small screen lawyers that stick in our minds, from the passionate and super serious, to the absolutely nutty and incompetent.

#10: Ted Buckland “Scrubs” (2001-10)

Kicking off our list is the bald-headed lawyer responsible for preventing lawsuits at Sacred Heart training hospital. Easily one of the most pathetic lawyers in the history of television, Sam Lloyd plays Ted up as a spineless middle-aged loser so unable to stomach legal trouble that he gets the sweats. Though he’s never seen in a courtroom, his only real talent is his knack for singing TV jingles a-cappella!

#9: Lionel Hutz “The Simpsons” (1989-97)

Transitioning to animation is this outrageous ambulance-chasing stereotype voiced by Phil Hartman! As morally bankrupt as they come, Hutz doesn’t just lack ethics, he also lacks credentials! Regardless of the fact that he’s a recovering alcoholic who works out of a shopping mall office and offers fake jewelry as an incentive, he still manages to get work representing the Simpsons and other foolish citizens of Springfield!

#8: Jack McCoy “Law & Order” (1990-2010)

There have been countless lawyers in this series and its many spin-offs, but we’ve decided to single out Sam Waterston’s Jack from the crowd. Lovingly nicknamed “Hang ‘Em High McCoy,” this DA is best known for going rogue and ignoring the rules in the pursuit of justice. No stranger to contempt of court, he’s also known for mocking the witness! And what a run he had, too: two decades putting fictional scumbags away ain’t too shabby!

#7: Ally McBeal “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002)

Next up is the television’s greatest single female lawyer! Calista Flockhart inhabits this quirky, and extremely slender Harvard Law graduate who works in a firm run by her former boyfriend. As you can imagine, with a set up like this, and an office that insists on a co-ed washroom, her practice veers towards the lighthearted and fun over heavy drama. Seriously, she even gets to work with Janosz from Ghostbusters 2!

#6: Jackie Chiles “Seinfeld” (1989-98)

This show about nothing wouldn’t be the same without the outrageous attorney who gets sucked into Kramer’s harebrained schemes! An overt parody of real life lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Jackie’s both outspoken and over-the-top. No job is too small for Jackie, as he tackles everything and anything, from coffee burns to premature aging!

#5: Dan Fielding “Night Court” (1984-92)

John Larroquette stars as this sex-crazed and insanely narcissistic prosecutor. Working the night shift, he’s best remembered for his witty and cruel treatment of pretty much everyone he meets, defendants included. Larroquette’s lawyer role was so entertaining and scene-stealing that he earned several Golden Globe nominations, and four consecutive Emmys for best supporting actor.

#4: Saul Goodman “Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

Better call Saul! This shady Albuquerque criminal lawyer takes a page out of Lionel Hutz’s book and operates out of a strip mall office. Though his real name is Saul McGill, he works under the alias Saul Goodman, becoming the left-hand man to crystal meth kingpin Walter White. The result of that is this morally bankrupt opportunist with a cell phone for every situation is regularly relied upon when the shit hits the fan, which happens with astonishing regularity.

#3: Alan Shore & Denny Crane “Boston Legal” (2004-08)

Now we’re getting serious. That’s right, we’re now talking about the courtroom’s heavy hitters played by James Spader and William Shatner. Two men that are straight edge and ethically challenged respectively, they butt heads, and smoke cigars together on a regular basis. This duo is legendary for bringing us both the dark and comedic inside scoop of a top tier Boston law firm.

#2: Ben Matlock “Matlock” (1986-95)

This list wouldn’t be complete without a folksy simple country lawyer, and Andy Griffith encompassed this persona to the letter. Simple, but not stupid, Matlock never took on a case for less than a hundred thousand, and he was worth every penny. Especially skilled at his job, he is notable for always getting culprits to confess themselves through his dramatic approach. A syndication darling, viewers could never get enough of this hot dog loving lawman.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

#1: Perry Mason “Perry Mason” (1957-66)

Taking the top spot on our list is the archetype for all on-screen lawyers that followed, originating as the titular hero of some 80 novels and short stories. A household name, Raymond Burr’s defence attorney Perry Mason remains one of the most influential TV lawyers, decades after his last case. A hero with a mysterious past, he’s recognized for his Sherlock Holmes level of skill, and passion for justice.

Do you agree with our list? Which small screen lawyer would you want, or not want, taking your case? For more top 10s approved by a jury of your peers, and to see our movie lawyer’s countdown, be sure to subscribe to

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