American Lawyer and Courtroom Comedies

Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Forthcoming

Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 16-01

26 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2016

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: January 14, 2016


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.

Keywords: Comedy, Lawyers, Attorneys, Courts, Trials, Literature, Film, Television, Popular Culture

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, American Lawyer and Courtroom Comedies (January 14, 2016). Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Forthcoming; Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 16-01. Available at SSRN:

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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