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Crusading Lawyer

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"It's only natural for living creatures to fight to protect their own lives. But what makes us human is that we fight for others. But who do you fight for? How hard must you fight...? That's the true measure of what human life is worth. We defense attorneys are warriors who are constantly challenged by that question. Even when the battle is over, and the bonds that connect us are severed... We always return... Time and time again."
Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

Judge Garrett: In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation.

Joe Miller: With all due respect, your honor, we don't live in this courtroom, do we?

Some Lawyers are purely in it for the Money. At best they don't care who you are or what they are represent at court as long as the bill gets paid. At worst they are Amoral Attorneys who will do anything to win while giving a crap whom they have as client.

And then there is the other kind of lawyer. This one is emphatic for your problems and will help you, though it may need some prodding or Character Development. Be it suing a Mega Corp because they poison your water, defending your innocence in a murder trial or give his all in bringing a criminal to justice, that's the one who you want. Money will be a decidedly secondary worry for him and if you can't afford it, there is always pro bono work.

On the other side of the room they are prosecutors who will not pull punches in the pursuit of bringing a criminal to justice, even if they piss on half of the legal establishment while doing it.

Obviously most protagonist lawyers in legal dramas will fall under this. If the lawyer is set in a more comedic/dramedic setting, expect lot of them to be Bunny Ears Lawyer and routinely use an armory of Courtroom Antics to win, mainly because "normal" tactics might not be enough to win the case. Aside from Rule of Funny that is.
When this kind of lawyer takes his fight too far, there is the chance that he might end up in a Knight Templar mindset, in effect turning him into an Amoral Attorney for the sake of his morals.

Compare to Good Lawyers, Good Clients in that here it also describes lawyers in civil courts (suing companys, etc) and that a Crusading Lawyer may also take on clearly or ambiguously guilty clients if only to make sure they do get proper representation or if the letters of the law do not fully suit the situation.

Examples of Crusading Lawyer include:


Comic Books Edit

  • Matt Murdoch brings the same sense of work ethics and morality into his day-job.
  • She Hulk too.
  • The latest, pre-New52, incarnation of Manhunter (No, not the green one) shows one of the more extreme versions of this trope, as she is a prosecutor willing to bring criminals justice as vigilante if it isn't found in court.
  • Harvey Dent was a District Attorney in Gotham City and ally of Batman before a Gangster throws acid in his face and he becomes Two-Face

Film Edit

  • Edward L. Masry in Erin Brockovich, though more on the "ending there" than "starting there" side. Also in Real Life.
  • Similarly Joe Miller from Philadelphia
  • Alan Isaacman in The People vs. Larry Flynt
  • When superheroes were started to be sued and banned by the government in The Incredibles, daytime-lawyer/nighttime-hero Gazerbeam fought as hard as he could for the rights of his masked compatriots.
  • Like in the comics, Harvey Dent.
  • John Travolta's character Jan Schlichtmann in A Civil Action was this type of lawyer. He ended up going bankrupt because of his dedication to the cause.

Live Action Television Edit

  • JAG veers into this some times, as they go to some lengths to win their cases, like firing a sub-machine gun in the courtroom.
  • Most lawyers at Crane, Pool & Schmidt, given the right case. Especially Alan Shore (after some Character Development), who is always willing to stand onto his soapbox for the underdog, bends this and Amoral Attorney together into a nice pretzel.
  • Ally McBeal and John Cage are also often emphatic to their clients troubles and determined to help.
  • The Closer has Peter Goldman, Brenda Johnsons attorney in the Turrell Baylor lawsuit.. At first he won't work without pay while at the end he is willing to work pro bono (and publicity).
  • Eli Stone also ends up as this after some Character Development
  • Who can we get on the case? We need Perry Mason.
  • Matlock as well, him beeing the Cool Old Guy version of Perry Mason
  • Law and Order has its share. A lot of them tend more towards the morally gray area of this trope, skirting into Knight Templar or Amoral Attorney territory sometimes.
    • Jack McCoy is probably the most prominent of them, with his methods letting him skirt into Amoral Attorney territory occasionally.
    • Alex Cabot from SVU is also willing to interpret the law somewhat creatively in order to bring justice.
      • Also from SVU: Casey Novak slips off the slippery slope in her crusade against a child-raping police officer and violating due process, ending with her getting censured and losing her license for 3 years (getting disbarred before a Retcon).
      • Also from SVU is Kim Greylek, who had the in-universe nickname "Crusader" while working at the Department of Justice.
    • On the defending side we have Danielle Melnick, whose belief in the right to have counsel goes to the point where she (a jewish woman) defends a neo-nazi in court.
  • Raising the Bar shows lawyers from both sides, showing this trope from both sides in the same series
  • In the first episode of Blakes Seven the titular Blake has this kind of lawyer as representation, which got executed for his troubles.

Literature Edit

  • Atticus Finch didn't want the case but works to the best of his abilities anyhow.
  • In the X Wing Series we have Nawara Ven. While a Pilot for Rogue Squadron he was originally a lawyer defending non-humans in the very humanocentric Galactic Empire. Later he defends one Squadron mate who is accused of killing another.

  "You would have hated me if you were trying to make a case against one of my clients ñ whether he was lying about his innocence or not."

Tabletop Games Edit

  • Werewolfes born under the Half Moon, called Philodox, in Werewolf: The Apocalypse tend to be this, if following a legal career.

Visual Novels Edit

Web Comics Edit

  • Celia from The Order of the Stick is technically still at law school, but shows hallmarks that this will be the kind of lawyer she'll be.

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