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Everyone has seen Elle’s story of legal world dominance in “Legally Blonde.” That’s great and inspiring and all, but like most movies depicting a profession, it’s highly unrealistic (except the getting berated by a bitch professor part–that shit’s for real). Here’s the way Elle’s courtroom drama really went down.
Elle was fresh out of law school, after graduating in the meaty 60th percentile, because 90 percent of any given law school class can’t graduate in the top 10 percent. It’s math. Elle took a job at a medium-sized firm she found because her dad knew a guy. She was ready to jump right into the courtroom and just dominate the place, but first things were first. She worked on research and brief writing for weeks and weeks, because those things don’t write themselves. Her managing partner sure as hell wasn’t going to do it.
After endless hours spent cross-referencing statutes and asking the firm’s legal secretaries for help on the sly in an effort to appear competent to the partners, Elle’s hard work finally paid off. One of the partners asked her to sit first chair at the trial on this case that Elle had worked on so hard. Elle was decent at oral arguments in law school–that is, once she was able to move past her immature urge to giggle after “may it please the court.” She was usually able to pull some diatribe out of her ass if she was unexpectedly called on in class. She felt it only logical that she’d be able to do the same in real lawyer life.
Elle, with her good looks and personality, thought it would be no problem to charm and persuade lay people into believing her client’s version of the story. However, this trial happened to be a bench trial. (For non-legal friends, that’s a trial without a jury where the judge decides the verdict.) This was meant to be a nice little starter trial for Elle, where she could get some courtroom experience without the pains of voir dire (jury selection). Elle then wondered what her new strategy was going to be. There’s no way the judge would like her more than the assistant district attorney who had been practicing in front of that judge since he was an intern in the courtroom trenches regularly since 2L year, when he obtained that highly coveted position in the district attorney’s office.
As it came time for Elle to cross-examine the witness, looking like a dog scared of getting kicked by its owner, she prayed she could break the witness down just like the movies. She thought she’d Tom Cruise them “A Few Good Men”-style. However, as it turns out, that is the stuff of legal wet dreams, and definitely not the reality of a baby attorney. As the prosecution’s witness stuck adamantly to his side of the story, Elle began to wonder where she went wrong. This person wasn’t budging. Every time Elle tried to get aggressive, the objections started flying around like auctioneer calls at an estate sale. As Elle was left with no more unobjectionable questions to ask and no more self-esteem to pull her eyes from staring down at her now worthless, neatly printed, lines of questioning script, she rested her case.
It’s no surprise the resulting verdict handed down by the legal gods was not in Elle’s favor. As she walked out of the courtroom, the victim of public humiliation, she had to call her superior with the bad news. Expecting the worst, her boss simply replied, “Well, you’ve gotta learn somehow.” Elle thought to herself, “WTF was that supposed to mean? Did my boss do this to me on purpose? Was this a losing case from the beginning, or am I just a bad lawyer? Should I start looking for the next available, strictly contracts gig I can find?”
Elle decided in light of the non-lawyer-movie occurrence that had just happened to her, which killed her dreams of made-for-TV-movie legal fame, she’d just take solace in the fact that “damn baby attorney” isn’t a sufficient reason for a bar complaint to the best of her knowledge. She’d just try again another day. Elle headed to happy hour to drown her legal career woes with fellow freshly released from law school captivity friends. As they all exchanged the stories from their day, each of them realized that no one else is really just kicking ass fresh out of the cage, either. As Elle cheers-ed her friends in a sarcastic expression of non-celebration, she realized her day would come, eventually (hopefully). In the meantime, another round, please.
Well, there you have it–the real legally blonde story of Elle Woods. The moral of the story is to watch a few real trials before going to law school. Invest wisely.