Suits Makes Being a Lawyer Look Awesome: What is it Really Like?

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We asked lawyers and legal professionals throughout the country if being a lawyer is as awesome as it looks on Suits. The popular television show has depicted lawyers for the past three seasons, but is being a real life lawyer as splendid as it is in the series? We decided to ask the experts to weigh in with their thoughts.

I'm writing on behalf of attorney Scott Grabel, owner of Grabel and Associates, a criminal defense law firm practicing throughout the state of Michigan. There are many differences between television attorneys and what happens in real life. The cases don't get resolved so quickly and it's not nearly as glamorous! Oddly enough, a client recently compared Grabel's personality to one of the charters on Suits (I can't remember which one, off the top of my head).

-Alexis Krawczyk
Executive Assistant
Grabel & Associates

I don't watch television and haven't heard of the show Suits, but I thought you might be interested in my perspective. I quit a government attorney job to start my own practice so that I could do work, I was really excited about and have the flexibility to travel and spend more time with my very young child. I actually spend a majority of my time as a stay-at-home mom, and my business is growing. I do transactional work only -no litigation - so I spend my time in cafes and libraries working on contracts, LLC operating agreements, other documents, and meeting clients I'm really excited about. I also participate in legal cafes held by the Sustainable Economies Law Center to support a resilient, healthy local economy. My work requires me to learn constantly, and my clients are super inspiring, and I just love my life right now.

Sarah Kaplan
Sarah Kaplan Law Office

I can provide this one anonymous thought...I'm sure you will get a lot of "being a lawyer is awesome" posts...I thought this might spice things up. It's from a debt collection attorney in the tri-state area.

"Being a lawyer is nothing like it looks on television. It's 99% filing paperwork and tedious telephone negotiations. And constantly worrying that you may have missed something and violated one if the hundreds of ethical rules. You also don't get to spend days on one case. You are lucky if you get 30 minutes some days."

-Kristi Bergeron
Digital, Lifestyle, Biz Development

What is it really like being an attorney?

From a pawn in the military to law school, and then a legal aid attorney, I became a staff attorney for the United Farm Workers Union and then director of the ACLU farm worker project. Propelled into a powerful movement was an answer to a dream. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation as a member of a team with all the energy I possessed. Meanwhile, my wife and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible. It was one few traveled-but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me. The role of lawyers in TV shows misses out on the real world of the paper chase, the stress, and the satisfaction of pursuing justice.

After two summers with the UFW as a law clerk followed by three years of intense litigation, many miles commuting, and twelve-hour work days, I was ready to pitch in with the care of our two and a half year old Aleksey and give Joan the time to complete her Master's degree in dance at UCLA. When my cases were finally settled and the ALRB constituted that brought some fairness to farm workers, I opened my own practice as a solo attorney. At the EEOC I selected cases that appeared meritorious. Meanwhile, I was hired me as a Constitutional Law professor at a local law school. At the Federal Court of Appeals, I represented indigent appellants from criminal convictions. Many EEOC cases settled, kept employees from losing jobs and compensated the client and me. A judge dismissed one against GTE that held an employer that had a qualified privilege to slander an employee for internal communications. My appeal was successful Kelly v. General Telephone, (1982) 136 Cal. App. 3d 278, 186 Cal. Rptr. 184, and set precedents in a slander case. The jury returned a large verdict that brought justice to my client and trial confidence to me.

-Daniel C. Lavery

I'm a lawyer and I love it! I work mainly as a sports agent. My life is pretty awesome!


As for whether it is fun,Litigation can be a fun game. The stakes are high. You have a battle of the wits and strategy and someone else is keeping score (either the judge or jury). But, I quickly learned it was not actually a game. While I was having fun, there were real people whose lives and livelihoods were being changed by the game. No one ever really won. Those fantasies of having a clear win are rare. The process is so grueling that even the winners are often deflated by the time the verdict comes along. Trials don't arise and resolve in an episode or even a season. They go on for years, disrupting life and peace of mind. As one judge told me, the cases that come to court are failures, often brought there by someone with a personality disorder.

That's why I started a new game: finding the solution that best met my clients' needs and along the way preserved the relationship with the other party. I decided to play in the high stakes field of divorce where it mattered most. Finding a resolution that allowed ex-husbands and ex-wives to dance at their daughter's wedding, being able to cheer together from the bleachers of their child's soccer game, sharing the first day of school....that was a game much more worth playing.

-J. Kim Wright, J.D.

I have the perfect attorney to answer your query! Debra Bogaards, an aggressive but polished trial attorney who was recently on the cover page of San Francisco Magazine's Super Lawyers of Northern California, loves the dramatization of Suits but finds a few differences within reality and the popular network series.

While Bogaards claims that Suits is realistic, at the same time television always exaggerates situations in order to captivate an audience. Every day office or court experiences are not nearly as dramatic. However, similarly, there may be moments where lawyers are cut throat and go for the jugular; these moments are just not as common as Suits portrays.As a female attorney, Bogaards is a partner in her firm Bogaards Davis LLP, which is located in San Francisco. There is only one male law partner out of four. Bogaards wears Armani and Theory suits, accompanied by Christian Louboutin 5 to 6-inch stilettos, needless to say apart from her boundless talent, she stands out in a courtroom.

When a motorcycle accident client was in the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital, and Bogaards walked in to meet her for the first time, she said, "That's my attorney [with the Prada bag and Christian Louboutin stilettos]."

After winning 33 jury trials, there are plenty of "war stories." In comparison, the female managing partner in Suits is polished, yet eats raw meat. Bogaards identifies herself most to her.

-Debra Bogaards

Bogaards Law


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