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David Boies Has a Thing for The Good Wife

The Careerist

May 10, 2016


I was this close to sharing a cozy evening with David Boies on Sunday. We had a date to meet at his apartment on the Upper East Side to watch The Good Wife. The reason for our rendezvous? Boies was making a surprise appearance on the hit show's finale.

Alas, the fates were against me. A few hours before the show, his publicist informed me that he had to work through the night. (At least, that's what she said.) Sadly, I watched it by my lonesome in my little apartment. And instead of getting real time reactions from the legendary litigator, I had to rely on my own wits. Fortunately, I did talk with Boies the next day.

But first, let's pause for a moment: How many big firm lawyers get to play themselves on the ultimate episode of a hit TV show? That puts Boies in rare company—someone with rock star status. If he's not Mick Jagger, he's at least on par with Sting. (Remember when Sting played himself in the hit legal drama Ally McBeal?)

In Good Wife, Boies is trotted out like a trophy horse by Diane Lockhart (played by Christine Baranski), the defense lawyer for Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), the Illinois governor who's accused of corruption; he's also the husband of the show's heroine Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies). Boies doesn't get to demonstrate his legal prowess beyond agreeing with Lockhart that U.S. v. Nunez should apply in Florrick's case. (I'll leave it to you legal nerds to discuss the finer points of Nunez's application because I have no idea and no interest.) None of it matters, because Lockhart's strategy is to deploy Boies to impress the court. (Query: Who can afford Boies just to dazzle people?)

It's not a big part, nor a pivotal one. Happily, Boies takes it all in stride. He says it was "great fun to be on the show. . . Together with The Americans, [The Good Wife] is my favorite show." (Boies got the gig through Jaime Sneider, an associate at his firm, who's a friend of Craig Turk, one of the show's producers.)

Fun, yes, but the show also doesn't hurt Boies' image. Not only is his brand as a superstar lawyer reinforced, but he also comes across as a self-deprecating guy with a sense of irony. For instance, at one point, Lockhart asks him, "Sir, you are one of the most respected legal experts working today. Isn't that correct?" Boies' responds: "I'd rather not say that about myself." At another point, the judge (played by David Paymer) is so enthralled by Boies that he gushes that hearing his testimony was "an unilateral pleasure." To that, Boies responds skeptically, "Okay. That was interesting."

All that, "Oh shucks, I'm just doing my job" modesty stuff seems like a publicist's dream. (Can you see Sam Sheperd playing Boies on the big screen?) But Boies tells me that he had no prior approval of the script. "I just showed up to read my lines." What's more, he even got to recite the full name of his firm, Boies Schiller & Flexner, on the air. Talk about product placement!

All in all, Boies thinks his cameo captures who he is—down to the way he dresses. "I was wearing what I usually wear—my LandsEnd suit."

In other words, everything went according to script.




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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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