"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."Some lawyers are 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, regardless of the broader impact and with no concern for what's "right." And then there is the other kind of lawyer: the Crusading Lawyer. This one is sympathetic to your problems and will help you, though they may need some prodding or screentime before taking your case. Whether suing a Mega Corp. because they poisoned the water supply or defending a client's innocence in a murder trial, that's the lawyer you want. Money will be a decidedly secondary worry for this type, and if you can't afford a crusader's services, there is always pro bono work* In some cases, a Crusading Lawyer becomes a prosecutor who takes on the most hopeless cases so that justice can be served and will never forget that they serve the people, the law, and the victim. In legal dramas, The Protagonist usually fits this trope given that he is also The Hero. If you're in a Crapsack World or the protagonist is an Anti-Hero, they may have started as a Crusading Lawyer before turning into the Well-Intentioned Extremist version of an Amoral Attorney. If the character happens to be "quirky" as well as a competent lawyer, you have a (literal) Bunny-Ears Lawyer. The two tropes aren't mutually exclusive, and a Bunny-Ears Lawyer may turn out to be a Crusading Lawyer underneath the Courtroom Antics. If the crusader loses and goes beyond the bounds of the law, they've crossed the line and become a version of the Well-Intentioned Extremist. This can be permanent, a form of Character Development (particularly when done in reverse), or temporary. Compare to Good Lawyers, Good Clients. A Crusading Lawyer can appear outside of criminal cases — civil litigation is hugely expensive, so the crusader may decide to fight for a nobody in a police brutality case. In criminal law, crusaders may defend the obviously guilty to uphold the right to a fair trial, if the letters of the law do not fully suit the situation, or because of broader issues related to the case. Depending on where the work in question falls on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, it's possible to see two crusaders in head-to-head battle.
— Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Monster: Fritz Verdemann is devoted to defending people he believes to be innocent, due to his conviction that his father was wrongly accused of being a communist spy. Hired by sympathetic former patients, he ends up defending the neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzo Tenma, who is accused of crimes he didn't actually commit and is hunting for the true perpetrator.
- Matt Murdock brings the same sense of work ethics and morality into his day-job.
- She-Hulk too.
- The latest, pre-New 52, 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.
- Hard Time has Julius and Truth Rosenberg, a pair of these portrayed in a bad light — as the Distant Finale reveals, they were only interested in Ethan's hot-button case as a way to grab headlines. The second they thought associating with Ethan might reflect badly on them, they abandoned him. Ethan never heard from them again, and ended up serving his full 50 year sentence.
- 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.
- Ari Josephson in The Chase was this for Jack Hammond pre-film, though he failed at it (the one crucial piece of evidence for his defense was disallowed). He tries to talk Jack out of running, but is unsuccessful. By the end of the movie, he's rooting for Jack to get away.
- To Kill a Mockingbird: 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."
- Margareth McPherson a.k.a. Maggie McFierce in The Lincoln Lawyer novels is a prosecutor who is more interested in justice than winning cases.
- 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.
- In Boston Legal, 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 & 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). There was also a famous incident where she subpeonaed the US Secretary of Defense.
- Also from SVU is Kim Greylek, who had the in-universe nickname "Crusader" while working at the Department of Justice.
- Rafael Barba is this as well, though much more pragmatic than any of his predecessors.
- 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 Blake's 7 the titular Blake has this kind of lawyer as representation, which got executed for his troubles.
- In How I Met Your Mother, we have Marshall Eriksen, a man who seems completely devoted to the idea of saving the planet by becoming an environmental lawyer... Some day.
- Laurel Lance from Arrow works for a legal aid office and seems to take great delight in taking on cases where people have been abused by the system.
Laurel: If we can't win a class-action suit against a man who swindled hundreds of people out of their homes and life savings, then we're not fit to call ourselves a legal aid office.
- Werewolfes born under the Half Moon, called Philodox, in Werewolf: The Apocalypse tend to be this, if following a legal career.
- Ace Attorney:
- Phoenix Wright might be one of the best examples of this trope. Yes, he is the universe's Butt Monkey, and his methods may sometimes be unorthodox, but he will fight for a client he knows is innocent no matter the odds, and he will make sure that the guilty pay for what they did.
- Phoenix's successor, Apollo Justice, follows the same path.
- Miles Edgeworth used to be a ruthless prosecutor. One particular case and some Character Development later, he evolves into the prosecutor version of this.
- 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.
- Laurel Olsen from Rhapsodies is a quixotic idealist and believer in "legislation through litigation". She's toned it down a bit since the free legal clinic she was working out of got it's funding cut and she found a more stable position.
- Truth in Television: Many, many law students and recent graduates begin their careers with the intention of becoming a Crusading Lawyer. Many famous names fit this trope, with Johnnie Cochran perhaps being the Ur-example. It's not unheard of for legal firms (of any size) to take on civil cases for free as a way to give back, do the right thing, or otherwise help those who would never be represented.
- The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is built around this trope. In one instance, the ACLU represented a pedophile — and won — due to the fact that the case hinged on an issue of free speech. They also defend or otherwise work to protect the rights of those harmed by racism, sexism, or over-zealous (or just flat-out corrupt) law enforcement.
- They've readily defended people from all ends of the political spectrum in advocating civil liberties, even the free speech rights of the KKK.
- Burton Joseph, an ACLU lawyer who advocated to the ACLU they defend the Skokie Nazis' right to march through the Jewish community of Skokie, is one such example.
- Amnesty International's involvement with major human rights cases also falls under this trope. As with the above, both groups are non-profits, so attorneys working for them are likely making considerably less than they could in other jobs.
- Thurgood Marshall, the great American civil rights lawyer and Supreme Court Justice said that his mentor inspired him with the statement, "A lawyer is either a social engineer or he is a parasite on society."