25 January 2010

New Street Law

Netflix has gotten it into it's computer algorithm that I'm a fan of BBC shows. After having it pop up in suggestions several times, I finally decided to try "New Street Law", a show about barristers in Manchester, England.

It's fascinating. The ongoing story is that of two law chambers (roughly analogous to US law firms). One chambers is dominated by a barrister determined to be a champion of the little guys; it struggles just to keep its doors open from day to day. The other chambers is well established and dominated by a respected barrister who is in the twilight of his career. The twist is that the barrister in the first chambers used to be in the elder barrister's chambers; he left and the elder barrister has never forgiven him. Since these two chambers share the same building, appear to be the only ones in Manchester and constantly face each other in court, this provides the background for every single case.

However, the truly interesting part is watching how the system operates. I'd realized that the British system had solicitors and barristers, but I hadn't realized that the barristers are totally dependent upon the grace of the solicitors to receive cases. It appears that if no solicitor will give a barrister a case (apparently called a brief in British parlance), the barrister is going to starve. There also doesn't appear to be permanently employed set of prosecutors so that cases are sent out to private chambers. It's also strange to see the differences in procedure. I can't imagine trying a case for the defense with the client sitting off to the back behind a glass wall. It's really interesting to watch the trial ongoing and see things go by as a matter of course which would have lawyers here in the States screaming at the top of their lungs (usually because of the lack of our constitutional amendments). Hearing a judge say that she will weigh the defendant's refusal to speak against him is really different. AND, I really want American courts to provide locker rooms in the courthouse for attorneys like British ones do (at least on this show).

Prior to watching this, I had thought that TNT's Raising the Bar was the best representation of defendants. Now I think that New Street Law is. Some clients are innocent, some are unrepentant (and still expect to win), some refuse to cooperate, some women try to use there sexuality to get out of things, and some clients are manipulative as a snake charmer.

Of course, part of the reason that I like this show is that I'm not able to pick it apart as I sit through it like I do American lawyer dramas. Perhaps an actual British barrister sits through this show pointing out errors every 3 minutes. Still, I thought it was great.

I checked and this show only ran for two seasons. If you've got Netflix and a device which will stream to your TV (I use a Roku), you can stream the first season (8 episodes), but you'll have to get the second season mailed to you. If you haven't figured it out yet, I heartily recommend you find some time and watch New Street Law.

1 comment:

g'man said...

Watch season two on Hulu.