In the first season of the runaway hit Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul tells the story of Jimmy McGill, and the long road he took from petty criminal to semi-respectable lawyer. In the end, he sort of blends the two. In real life, a lot of guys do things this way. Law can be learned by anyone, honest or not. And with plenty of criminals out there needing help in the legal department, there’s no short supply of folks in need of a shady lawyer.
In Better Call Saul, the titular character often ruminates on what it means to be a criminal lawyer, a criminal lawyer, that is. The show reminds us about all the ways people wind up in need of a lawyer. We’ve got small time con-men who cheat people out of their money using a simple plot. One skateboards into oncoming traffic, getting hit by a car, while his brother records the whole thing. Then they blackmail the driver.
These guys wind up in trouble when they cross a bigger, badder baddy. McGill also spends a lot of time representing the legal and financial interests of his local senior citizens. Specializing in “Elder Law”, he draws up wills and makes sure that no one is cheating these old folks out of their precious last resources. In another scenario, it’s McGill’s own brother, himself a very successful lawyer, who needs a hand. Having succumbed to mental illness, the brother is no longer able to live his life as normal and pursue the legal practice he built from the ground up. Jimmy tries his hardest to legally manipulate the practice into buying his older brother out.
But before all this, Jimmy has to slog it out in the trenches acting as a public defender for various screw-ups, people unable to pay for his services. He’s paid by the state a pittance for each case, and while he’s at it, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to continue. This is what leads him to the case which almost puts him behind bars. He gets to know a white-collar criminal, a public servant who embezzled millions of dollars to pad the nest of his yuppie, Ned Flanders-styled family. While what he has done is illegal, the man can’t conceive of himself as a criminal.
Each of these individuals illustrates a different kind of individual who will one day need a lawyer. There are different races, classes, education backgrounds, but each finds themselves facing circumstances better navigated by a strong legal mind. You may find yourself in a similar situation one day.