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To maintain a perfect win record, everyone must be found guilty!

"I have knowingly defended a number of guilty men. But the guilty never get away unscathed. My fees are sufficient punishment for anyone."
F. Lee Bailey, a Real Life criminal defense attorney (notably disbarred in multiple states for misconduct)
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Lawyers and Political Science majors other than the main characters are typically opportunistic, unlikeable, arrogant, cynical, slimy, Social Darwinist assholes whose God is Niccolò Machiavelli. Especially the corporate ones. Lawyers come in various degrees of oiliness, from slick, two-faced charmers to brutal bullies with a law degree. The worst defense attorneys will actually seem to know that their client is guilty and a total sociopath, and act as though they just love seeing the wicked go free, and will in fact happily count their money while the world burns. Meanwhile, the worst prosecutors are perverted sadists who will ruthlessly hound and psychologically torture defendants, and make them cry like a Moeblob in public court for all to laugh at, even when they personally acquire knowledge of their complete innocence, and have no problem advising their client (in very vague terms) that if something untoward happens to any key witnesses it would be so much easier to win. If the main character is poor and/or not that intelligent, the Amoral Attorney is the Goliath in the David v. Goliath scenario. Which of the two types of these attorneys appears usually correlates to the defendant's guilt: when an amoral prosecutor appears, than the defendant they're going after is almost always innocent, and amoral defense attorneys nearly always represent guilty-as-sin clients.

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In reality, attorneys are simply acting and arguing on behalf of their clients, and are supposed to be amoral (not immoral!) in their advocacy. An attorney is a true Punch-Clock Villain or Punch-Clock Hero depending on who hires them. In fact, in some jurisdictions, like the UK, advocates have no choice who they defend: if approached, it's professional misconduct not to accept a case within their professional competence. Criminal defense attorneys, in particular, are often very kind-hearted, civic-minded people who genuinely believe that even the worst members of society have a good reason for committing their crime, or that no matter how heinous the crime or obvious the guilt, the State must still prove it beyond a reasonable doubt—even if they understand perfectly well that their client is almost certainly guilty. Ideally, a strong defense of their client serves as an important check against false accusations, dirty cops, hanging judges, kangaroo courts, and other forms of fast-but-unfair tyranny. Thus the defense attorney's arguments slow down the legal procedure for the sake of long-term accuracy. What an attorney should not be is unethical. In trope terms, a good lawyer is (ideally) Lawful Neutral in practice and (dare we say it) Lawful Good in intention. In the wonderful world of fiction, however, Social Darwinism is the name of the game. After all, it's not much of a "drama" if the opponent isn't villainous and unlikable, is it?

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Another thing that people often forget is that for all the attention Criminal Law gets, they are actually a minority of the cases that appear before the courts. The vast majority of cases are civil cases, where in most instances everyone has something a bit off about them. This is particularly true in business-related cases, but except in family court (where very often someone is beating someone in their household up, and even then there can be reciprocated abuse), either side could be seen as slimy or at least culpable in most suits.

If desired, they can be made more sympathetic for audiences by having them do their jobs through gritted teeth for their loathsome clients as they quietly and firmly tell them to sit down and behave themselves. Furthermore, if they win, the lawyers in question can treat their clients coldly afterward by refusing to accept their thanks and responding that they will send them their very expensive bill for services rendered, since they were Only in It for the Money. A reasonably friendly social meeting between the prosecuting and defending lawyers after work can show that there are no hard feelings for each other doing their jobs as officers of the court.

This trope is also usually averted if the lawyer in question is working for a cause such as environmentalism, legal aid, civil rights, or against corruption, which are often portrayed heroically (and usually, there will be an Amoral Attorney on the other side). Often if the main character is a lawyer, they will be forced to choose between a high paying but amoral position with a business law firm, or a low paying job for an environmental or civil rights organization. This trope can be seen as a consequence of Evil Pays Better: defense attorneys could never get rich if they only chose clients who were truly innocent.

It is worth pointing out that an Amoral Attorney is competent. They do not bring silly frivolous lawsuits — that's the Ambulance Chaser. Although often unethical, this villain isn't necessarily corrupt. Being Rules Lawyers, they don't necessarily break the law to win, they merely work around and within the law's limitations with the assumption that their opposition will be doing the same thing in their own favor (or at least that the opposition would be stupid not to and thus would deserve a sound thrashing).

See also Evil Lawyer Joke, which originated by how widespread this kind of attorney is in fiction. To meet his opponent, see Crusading Lawyer.

No Real Life examples please. We don't want to get sued.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. One of these attacks Togusa on the stand after he shoots a rich cyborg kid, trying to make it seem like it was a cold blooded attack on the cyborg due to Togusa's supposed technophobic beliefs, instead of the fact that the cyborg was in the process of murdering his ex-girlfriend. When Section 9 discover that the lawyer is linked with elements plotting against it, he and his client have a fatal road accident.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Big Five member Chikuzen Ooka (called Johnson in the dub) is actually immoral. As a lawyer, he told outright lies and used fabricated evidence to win cases. As a duelist, he tried to cheat against Jonouchi, but was caught by Noah (the apparent Big Bad of the current arc who claimed to not tolerate cheating until he did so himself) and lost.
  • Not in the original, but in the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the Pro Duelist called X was also an Amoral Attorney. He didn't use any actual illegal methods, but it is hinted that he would use any legal loophole he could find.
  • Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was studying law before becoming a murderous vampire, and he was already a sociopath before that.

    Art 
  • In first painting of the Marriage A-la-Mode series, Silvertongue, one of the legal counsellors drawing up the paperwork for the marriage contract, shows as much regard for the sanctity of marriage as the simultaneously engaged and unengaged couple. As he sharpens his quill, he begins romancing the bride-to-be, clearly sensing that he could be on to a good thing by getting into the bed of a rich yet unhappily married woman and thus living a life of luxury at her and especially her husband's expense. (She, meanwhile, is happy to have a sexual partner who is not a vain, syphilitic fop.)

    Comic Books 
  • This is subverted in the last chapter of The Monster Society of Evil as Mister Mind is being tried, his lawyer, who he knows to be a slick Amoral Attorney, hears of Mister Mind's crimes and tells Mister Mind he hopes he gets the electric chair, showing Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Shark-man lawyer, Mr. Larry "Frenzy" Fischmann, in Top 10 is a prime example. When one of his clients commits suicide in police custody, all he cares about is his fee. When Gograh shows up at the Top Ten, causing the earth to shake with each footstep, Frenzy says he'll sue the department if he gets whiplash from falling down in their building. At one point, Alexei "Spaceman" Glushko makes a comment about his people not having evolved in millions of years - Frenzy takes offense and cites this as one of many common misconceptions about sharks. Spaceman wasn't talking about sharks. Fischmann is a senior partner at Metavac, Fischmann, and Goebbels, by the way. That's Eddie Goebbels, a hypnotist.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark's former lawyer Bert Hindel plays this trope entirely straight. Tony ordered Hindel, as the head of his legal department, to use the courts to stop Justin Hammer from using technology Hammer had stolen from Stark Enterprises. Hindel did such a poor job of representing Stark's interests that Tony finally fired him. Hindel would later return as the defense lawyer for Stark's Stalker with a Crush, Kathy Dare, who was facing attempted murder charges for shooting Tony. He used all sorts of sleazy legal tactics to make Stark look bad and portray Kathy as being under considerable mental stress. As a way of getting revenge on Stark, he also planned to write a juicy tell-all book with Kathy about what Tony was supposedly really like. Fortunately, Hindel didn't do any better than when he was the head of Stark's legal team, and ended up getting Kathy committed to a sanitarium.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: The classic Carl Barks story "The Golden Helmet" (and Don Rosa's sequel "The Lost Charts of Columbus") features corrupt lawyer Sylvester Sharkey working with con-man Azure Blue. Barks wrote his story shortly after he'd been through an ugly divorce with his second wife, and was presumably not a big fan of lawyers at the time.
  • In one underground comic, the marriage of "Dino-Boy" (yes, he's a human with a dinosaur body, or a dinosaur with a human head) falls apart. They both hire lawyers — who happen to be partners, and they decide to milk both spouses for all they're worth.
  • Mentioned briefly in one Birds of Prey story arc. The Twelve, a group of brothers named after the Chinese Zodiac (with Rabbit acting as their spokesman and leader), each with near Shiva level martial arts talent, are sent to defend a shipment of drugs to Gotham. The Birds of Prey engage them until Lady Blackhawk renders the whole fight meaningless by blowing up the drug shipment with her fighter jet. Having failed their mission, the Twelve surrender:
    Rabbit: We have at our disposal creatures far more ruthless and terrible than even ourselves. Lawyers.
  • In one Grendel story, a highly successful and brilliant lawyer, whose sole moral lapse is having extramarital relations, is forced to become an Amoral Attorney for Grendel's organization. Grendel goes to some pretty extreme lengths to hire him: he starts by trying to blackmail the lawyer with photos of him and his mistress. The lawyer's response is to immediately confess to his wife, refusing to be blackmailed. Then Grendel threatens to kill his wife and children. That convinces him. The lawyer's life is ruined since everyone around him, his friends and colleagues and family (who leave him), is disgusted by the lawyer defending the kind of scum that works for Grendel.
  • There is an attorney in Sin City that only appears in one panel where he tells Marv that if he doesn't sign a confession, The Mafia will kill his mother. He gets his arm broken in three places.
  • Batman: Some continuities (such as the Batman newspaper strip, and Two-Face: Year One) have Harvey Dent turn into this very, very briefly after the acid hits and before he descends into Cartoonish Supervillainy. His origin in the New 52 has him indulging in this, violating attorney-client privilege in order to get the crime family he was family lawyer to (at the behest of Batman and Gordon) in order to get them convicted.
  • Played with in Asterix book Asterix and the Laurel Wreath. Their lawyer isn't evil but doesn't care about getting them off and is taking the case for publicity. He gets into an argument with the Prosecutor when they start their speech with "Delenda Carthago Est" like he planned to.
    • Then again, Asterix doesn't care either and actively torpedoes his own case and Obelix doesn't really grasp the situation.
  • The Mickey Mouse Comic Universe has Sylvester Shyster, a recurring villain who attempted to cheat Minnie Mouse out of her inheritance in his first story.
  • Eustache in Dungeon: The Early Years cheats on his girlfriend, is known more for his parties than his law practice and will get mad if you outright don't follow any law he tries to circumvent. When xenophobic rabbit people sell his girlfriend to a whorehouse the hero says they should have their throat slit, Eustache takes it as a just sentence.
    Hyacinthe: Eustache wait that was just a figure of speech.
    Eustache: (slitting a rabbit's throat) those who lives lawlessly must face the consequences.
  • Green Lanterns introduces Singularity Jain, an alien/demon/living black hole who might be the most extreme version of this trope in existence. A very literally predatory defense attorney, she approaches people who have no where else to turn to, refusing payment and instead asking for a single favor. This favor inevitably ends up being something (usually murder) that drives her client even deeper into despair, until they lose hope completely. It's at this point that she eats them whole, feeding on their despair and pain.
  • In The New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy? Dick and Donna learn that the attorney for the orphanage Donna's mother gave her to was using his information to blackmail and frighten new adoptive parents to give up their kids to him, thinking him to be legit, and then selling the kids on the black market.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Donna Milton is a lawyer who knowingly and gleefully works for organized crime and sleeps with one of her immoral clients. She also claims to have killed someone herself in her past and is actually Circe is disguise as a mortal.

    Fan Works 
  • The Homestuck fanadventure Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood has an original charachter called Cherna Shapka, a Lawful Evil legislacerator. Her first priority is the law, not justice; and her second is profit. She does not see these two as conflicting interests. Her third priority is everything else. Thus she is a very sleazy person, often and openly helping criminals in ways that seem like they should be, but are not actually illegal. Troll law sure is weird.
    As a legislacerator, your job is to defend the law. Your duty is to track, arrest, and convict criminals. You perform your duty flawlessly, and you have spent much of your career with the highest arrest and conviction rates of any living legislacerator.
    You fight to defend the law at the expense of defending justice.
    And at the expense of defending morality.
  • In Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy Klavier and Apollo are one, half the time. While they do their part to find the truth and the people actually guilty put away, they framed Daryan and Kristoph for crimes they didn't commit and manipulated the witnesses and defendants. Although this was part of a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder to get Daryan, who abused his wife, and Dirty Cop and Kristoph, a Bad Boss Amoral Attorney and poisoner put away and prevent them from killing Klavier and Apollo. Which is ironic, seeing how Klavier was the first prosecutor in Ace Attorney to avert this trope.
    • The fan-made AA case The Empty Turnabout has Athena Cykes. She killed a person but got away with an acquittal, and is pretty famous as a defense attorney. She also wants to take a case solely to gain more fame.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the protagonist himself courts this idea, being willing to go a long way to stave off the conviction of his client, a genocidal Emotion Eater.
  • Synthetic Bottled Sunlight follows an emotionally exhausted Princess Celestia attempting to outwit a litany of corrupt lawyers and bureaucrats after she is found unfit to rule.
  • In the Motion Practice series, which recasts Marvel superheroes as lawyers, Loki Laufeyson is a slick defense attorney with a reputation for getting anybody off if they have the money.

    Film — Animated 
  • After proving that the young Linguini is the rightful heir to Gusteau's restaurant, the lawyer in Ratatouille is perfectly happy to advise his client on how to cheat the boy out of his inheritance.
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: A lawyer by the name of I.M. Slime. is more than willing to work with Cousin Mel to sue and frame Santa Claus for the hit and run of Grandma and rid the world of a holiday icon, just for a lot of money.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Lampshaded with an Evil Lawyer Joke in the film Blade II. Admittedly, the lawyer in question does work for vampires.
    Blade: You're human?
    Kounen: Barely. I'm a lawyer.
  • James Donovan's colleagues in Bridge of Spies, who seem more interested in creating the illusion of a defense for accused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel than actually defending him. The East German attorney Wolfgang Vogel is even worse (combining this trope with Historical Villain Upgrade), since he's keeping a man he knows to be innocent solely to help East Germany get a leg up in the Soviet hierarchy.
  • A main theme of A Civil Action is that amorality is a necessary quality of successful lawyers, because becoming too involved in their clients’ personal tragedies may cloud their judgment and make them less effective. The most amoral and competent attorney wins even if his client is guilty, but the main character proudly states that even if at the end he is financially ruined taking the case has made him a better man.
  • Conspiracy (2001) has perhaps one of the worst examples. During the Wannsee Conference, during which the Final Solution to the Jewish question was devised, several key participants were lawyers. Including members of the Justice Ministry. The most revolting one (who's also a lawyer) throws in an Evil Lawyer Joke for good measure.
  • Deep Cover: David Jason (Jeff Goldblum) is a drug lawyer who dreams of setting up his own operation producing synthetic drugs.
  • In The Devil's Advocate, Satan himself runs an entire corrupt legal office with global connections, composed of immoral humans and his own demons, as part of a plot to drive the world to apocalypse by providing every Card-Carrying Villain in the world with the best legal assistance in existence. An explicit example is the protagonist, Kevin Lomax: while he does retains some moral qualms against defending a pedophile in the beginning of the movie, he more or less completely eschews them. After he defeats the devil and is revived, he loses the "amoral", and risks disbarment to expose his pedophile client.
  • Played with in Hugh Lang, Whip's attorney, in Flight. While he quashes Whip's toxicology report with a technicality, despite the fact that he knew it was very much accurate, and casually mentions that the dead flight crew members "don't matter" (due to workers' compensation) he shows open disgust with Whip the first moment they meet regarding his behavior, and back tracks after the "don't matter" comment, saying he meant that legally, the airline is not at risk from them.
  • Sofie Fatale in Kill Bill was a O-Ren Ishii's lawyer, second-in-command, and best friend, which pretty much meant she was the Tokyo Yakuza's best attorney. And you really couldn't have that position unless you were okay with having blood on your hands. In fact, the Bride saw her at the original wedding chapel massacre, likely to assist O-Ren, casually talking on a cell phone as the bloodshed was happening.
  • The senior lawyers and lawmakers in the Legally Blonde movies and novels. In the musical, one of them even gets Blood in the Water, a Villain Song explaining the Amoral Attorney POV.
  • Little Sweetheart gives this as an upside that they killed Robert Burger, seeing as they don't gotta pay a public defender, clearly thinking very little of said defender, as he would have defended a bank robber and accused child murderer (he's innocent).
  • In Illegal (1955), Edward G. Robinson plays Victor Scott, a district attorney who is disgraced when his tenacious prosecuting sends an innocent man (a young DeForest Kelley!) to the electric chair. Scott becomes a criminal defense attorney — and a damn good one — but unwittingly becomes tangled up with the affairs of a local mobster. Though Robinson gets away with some antics that'd never fly in a real courtroom, the film nonetheless does a fantastic job explaining the very real dilemmas presented by criminal defense.
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Neal Page (Steve Martin) tries to bribe a man to get into his cab. The man finally says that he will give it for $50. But when Neal is about to give him the money, he says a man who will pay $50 for a cab would certainly pay $75.
    Neal: All right. $75. You're a thief!
    New York Lawyer: Close, I'm an attorney.
  • Gangster Chu Tao's Lawyer from Police Story, but don't worry, Jackie Chan beats up the lawyer and the criminal he defends at the end of the film.
  • In Primal Fear (1996), Martin Vail (Richard Gere) beautifully deconstructs this trope.
    • On the cynical hand, he knows that guilty people often have loads of money to spend on expensive legal aid.
      Martin Vail: First thing that I ask a new client is "Have you been saving up for a rainy day? Guess what? It's raining."
    • On the idealistic hand, he believes in the system and its ability to protect the innocent from wrongful punishment.
      Martin Vail: I believe in the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things.
    • And on the realistic hand, the fact that the system is designed to place the protection of the innocent over the punishment of the guilty means that, inevitably, more than a few will get off scott free - Aaron Stampler is only able to get away with his insanity plea with Vail's assistance. A grisly multiple murderer thus ducks the needle.
      Aaron Stampler: Don't be like that, Marty. We did it, man. We fucking did it. We're a great team, you and me. You think I could've done this without you?
  • Eye for an Eye (1996) had an interesting case. A man breaks into a house to rape and kill a teenager. The only evidence is a small amount of blood - enough for the prosecution to identify him with their own tests, but not enough for the defense to run tests of their own. He gets Off on a Technicality, leading to the main plot - the girl's mother suckering the killer into targeting her so she can kill him in self-defense. The part that gets you wondering why we don't kill every lawyer on Earth? The defense was invited to have their own experts participate in testing the blood - they declined. Then, they sprung the technicality. They purposefully refused to participate in the investigation so their killer rapist (who already had a record of stalking) could go free. Which is exactly why it doesn't work that way in reality.
  • Michael Clayton (2007) deconstructs this trope several times. The Designated Villain is this, but is a Punchclock Villain who is extremely neurotic and edgy off the clock. One of the main characters does a Heel–Face Turn from this at the beginning of the movie, the protagonist does the same by the end.
  • Linda from Madea Goes To Jail. She pads her cases with other previous cases, thus getting the people she's convicting more time than they are supposed to get. She gets a girl seventeen years in prison for two counts of prostitution when only four are allowed. She gets fired and she also gets arrested and left at the altar. And the worst part? The prostitute case is just because her fiance was spending more time concerned about an old friend in trouble than focusing on their upcoming wedding.
  • Fletcher Reede from Liar Liar starts like this, especially in the deleted scene where he successfully acquits an armed robber (which is referred to in passing in the actual film).
    • Fletcher's boss, Miranda, is established as this right away in her first scene. She's only interested in hiring lawyers that lie their way to winning. In fact, people who turn out to be an Amoral Attorney are actually a huge turn-on for Miranda, which is why she immediately seduces Fletcher into having sex with her moments after witnessing his lying skills.
  • Charles McCarter in Diary of a Mad Black Woman is revealed to have gotten quite a bit of his money from defending rich criminals who were obviously guilty.
  • In The Verdict, both Galvin and Cancannon are willing to resort to tactics of questionable morality, though they both also show a dedication to justice.
  • Victoria Thorne, the prosecutor in the Apocalypse film series movie Judgment, who is such a manipulative bitch.
  • Chris in The Woman, though most of his evilness is shown outside the courtroom. His wife even calls him out on it, noting that, as a lawyer, he should know that what he's doing is illegal and could get him thrown in jail.
  • Man on Fire. Jordan Kalfus, Samuel Ramos' lawyer, stole the ransom money before its delivery to the kidnappers. Ramos kills him for this when he finds out.
  • The Big Bad of Shotgun is a lawyer who does not only dabble in criminal undertakings, but who also gets his jollies by donning an all-leather outfit and beating up prostitutes within inches from their life.
  • Death Warrant: The organ harvesting operation in the prison was masterminded by a man high up in the legal system.
  • Donald Genarro in Jurassic Park, though much more lacking in morals than in the original novel. Highlighted when he abandons the kids when the T. rex shows up, only to then be eaten by said rex.
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, Commander Forrester makes himself a public favorite by dispatching a corrupt lawyer who works for drug kingpins.
  • Se7en, a movie about a Serial Killer who takes his inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins, uses a lawyer as the victim for greed. As the killer tells the detectives, "You guys must have been secretly thanking me for that one!"
    • The killer's own attorney appears at one point and appears less than thrilled to be working for this client, but does his job negotiating on behalf of his client (even using the leverage of bad PR for the police if they refuse to deal when there are more unknown victims out there).
  • In both Fletch movies, Fletch is bothered by his ex-wife's incredibly annoying alimony attorney Melvyn Gillette, who he despises almost as much as his ex-wife. (Supposedly, Melvin was able to get a rather unfair settlement in his wife's favor. Fletch gets even with him at the end of the second film, however, when he shows up offering to forego all future alimony payments (and never show his face there again) in exchange for the Belle Isle property, which he believes to be valuable. Fletch, barely able to contain his joy, happily signs over the land, which unbeknownst to Melvin, is worthless and covered with toxic waste due to the events of the movie.
  • True Believer: Roger Baron feels Eddie Dodd has become this by the time of the film, due to making a living defending drug dealers after having fought for radical causes in the past. Eddie denies it and says opposing the war on drugs is a worthy cause too, though it's pretty clear he's fallen a long way from his glory days. It turns out Robert Reynard really is one, since he framed a man to protect his source, apparently without any qualms.
  • Discussed and deconstructed in From the Hip. Robin, the main character, is a hotshot defense attorney who realizes he may well be about to put a psychopath back on the streets. He goes to his boss for advice. She tells him, gently but firmly, that it's his job to be the Amoral Attorney. He will have to defend guilty clients, he will most likely put awful people back on the streets, and she warns him that, "the wounds will pile up." That's the price of being a well-paid lawyer. She refuses, however, to be cynical about it. As flawed as the legal system is, she still believes in it, and she hopes with each case that "the truth will come out." Robin ends up getting his client to show his guilt — rather explicitly — in front of a jury. He gets a guilty man convicted, but he barely escapes disbarment for his actions. His boss is quietly proud of Robin for finding a way to do the moral thing.
  • In Peppermint, the attorney defending the gunmen that killed Riley North's family has no qualms working with drug dealers, to the point of using Cartel money to try to buy North's silence before the gunmen go to trial.
  • In The Ghoul, Professor Morlant's lawyer Broughton is one of the people trying to break into his tomb to steal the jewel.
  • Nick Rice, the protagonist of Law Abiding Citizen, is a high profile prosecutor too proud of his perfect conviction record to focus on actually serving justice any more. The plot of the movie is kicked off when, feeling he doesn't have enough evidence to guarantee the conviction of two men involved in a home invasion where the husband was assaulted, his wife was raped, and both her and the couple's daughter were murdered (he's totally wrong), he makes a plea bargain with the psychopath who actually committed the rape and murder to frame his accomplice (who only wanted to rob the place and tried to stop his partner's more horrific crimes) for the crimes and get him sent to the chair, while the murderer gets off with a slap on the wrist. This bites him in the ass when the husband isn't happy about it.
  • Anatomy of a Murder, has Paul Biegler, the protagonist. It's intentionally left ambiguous if he's simply very cynical or a genuine Amoral Attorney, but he has no problems acting as though he is the latter in order to help his case.
  • The titular character in Roman J. Israel, esq. becomes one of these after he becomes disillusioned with being a Crusading Lawyer, deciding to be exclusively concerned with money.
  • Abe Greenberg in The Hot Rock. What he does with information given to him in confidence would be unethical (and borderline illegal) regardless of who his client was. But to do it to his own son...?

    Literature 
  • In Alexis Carew: Mutineer, Alexis is nearly thrown under the bus by her own JAG on a hanging charge because he's more interested in making sure the Navy comes out looking good than in actually defending her. Luckily HMS Hermione's log is provided by a Hanoverese ship that flies in under flag of truce, and she is acquitted after her civilian co-counsel plays it for the court over the JAG's objections.
  • Confessions: St. Augustine's moral decline and study in rhetoric leads him to take a career in law, where (as he says) people excel according to how well they can lie and deceive. His only motive for working in court is to fund his vain sexual escapades. It's no coincidence that after hearing God's voice, Augustine finds it torturous to continue working with law students.
  • Charles Dickens
    • Mr. Tulkinghorn and Mr. Vholes from Bleak House. The sphinx-y, menacing Tulkinghorn relentlessly pursues the secrets of his client, Lady Dedlock, mostly because he derives pleasure from the power knowing such secrets offers him. Vholes is the definition of a slimy lawyer, masquerading under the pretense of efficiency and good faith, while milking his client (one of the protagonists) of all his inheritance.
    • Also, Dodson and Fogg, the smiling, polite, and utterly ruthless lawyers in The Pickwick Papers.
  • Mr. Slant from Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a lawyer and a zombie. Other zombies, such as Reginald Shoe, can be quite moral, but Slant appears to be motivated only by greed and is quite willing to break the law, or at least bend it into a pretzel. He is also quite quick to abandon his partners in crime when things threaten to go sour. Even his reason for still walking among the living like the other Revenant Zombies is amoral; he refuses to stay in the grave because his family still hasn't paid him fees for the trial in which he defended himself and lost both the case and his head. Slant gets a rare heroic turn in Making Money, where he manages to silence a number of lawyers for the evil Lavish family with a single glare. This might be just to satisfy his own personal pride as the local alpha corpse of Ankh-Morpork's legal profession...
    • For all Slant is never really a good guy, he is very proud of the convoluted, inordinately labyrinthine structure that is Morporkian law. Since he wrote most of it up. So, actually managing to defeat one of his (and/or his clients') schemes with it earns his begrudgingly respect, no matter the loss. Having to watch anybody bumble their way through it causing an inordinate mess as they go is the one thing that annoys him: especially if, say, the soon-to-be ex-client didn't follow his advice. The moment the clean-up becomes obviously more costly than his wage, he disengages.
  • The Doctor Who book The Dalek Generation has the 11th Doctor being put on trial on the planet Carthedia for hate crimes against the Daleks, who here are Villains with Good Publicity. He is prosecuted by the Dalek Litigator, who while not using much courtroom antics is a Dalek, and turns out to be the Dalek Time Controller.
  • Alphonse Baker Carr in the Doug Selby novels is an example, but D.A. Selby shows him little malice; he remarks that without defence attorneys defending guilty clients, there wouldn't be trial by jury, but trial by defence attorney.
  • John Grisham:
    • Played very, very straight by Patton French, a tort lawyer who becomes a recurring character in Grisham's novels. French serves to embody everything Grisham hates about the American tort system, getting rich off of other peoples' medical misery while screwing his clients. He even appears in The King of Torts, giving aspiring tort lawyers advice on how to wring the most money out of their clients, which leaves the protagonist feeling like he needs to take a shower.
      • Said progatonist unfortunately gets caught up in the greed and files a lawsuit on a drug that he believes to cause benign cancer, and then settles for an amount that makes him incredibly and quickly rich, but also gets the plaintiffs he represents very little. This causes a problem when he is sued for legal malpractice after it turns out that the cancer is very, very malignant, and his former clients start dying and want to punish him for settling too fast for his own benefit. This reversal of fortune causes him to refuse a settlement offer in another case, where he puts his own financial needs above the needs of his clients, which gets him assaulted by those clients. And his reckless charge on other class action suits already caused his legal reinsurance company to drop him because they couldn't cover his exposure, so when the chips fall, he goes from one of the richest, most successful class action lawyers in the country to declaring bankruptcy and running away to try to live in secrecy for the rest of his life. In a period of about 18 months. It's hard to say that Grisham wasn't trying to write some karmic justice for amoral class action lawyers here.
    • Harry Rex Vonner, another recurring Grisham lawyer, isn't above bugging a jury room.
    • An interesting case in The Rainmaker, where the lawyer in question may have been pushed into amorality: early in the discovery process, protagonist Rudy finds out his phone has been bugged, and suspects that it was done by the defense in his case. He quickly finds out that anything he says on the phone (such as the test case, where he tells his partner that his client wants to settle for a specific amount even though she has no intention of settling) is quickly relayed somehow to the defense team (in the test case, he gets a call within a few hours offering to settle for a little more than the amount he claimed in the call to his assistant). It's never clear if the defense team bugged the phone or the defendant did, but it's clear that the defense team is willing to use the information gained either way, which doesn't make the defense look good at all (and lets Rudy play them for complete fools during jury selection).
  • Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels feels that lawyers are like this, although no actual lawyers are encountered in the novel. His description of law to the Houyhnhnms begins with this: "There was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves." He just goes on from there.
  • Joe Pickett: The completely consciousless Clay McCann in Free Fire. He concocts a scheme that will allow him to murder four people who stand in the way of his latest money-making scheme and never stand trial for it. He later tells one of their friends that he shouldn't be upset at him as their murders were nothing personal, but just business.
  • Even British secretary of state Lord Chesterfield decried these in the Letters to His Son: "But the public lawyers, now, seem to me rather to warp the law, in order to authorize, than to check, those unlawful proceedings of princes and states" (letter 52)
  • Michael Crichton's novel Next features a lawyer, Barry Sindler, who is delighted with the prospect of a genetics-related case because it will take months, increasing his fee. Also, from the same novel, Albert Rodriguez, the Biogen lawyer, who is ready to violate the Burnets' rights by finding loopholes. Sure, an attorney who takes a case because he'll be able to generate a lot of fees is not necessarily amoral. An attorney who purposefully drags out a case to increase the fees he generates is, however.
    Sindler: You've already been tested?
    Diehl: No. I just know how to fake the lab results.
    Barry Sindler sat back in his chair.
    "Perfect."
  • The 13th century Njal's Saga has an early instance of this trope, if it really could be called a trope back then. When the killers of Njal and his family are sued by Njal's friends, the former enlist the help of the famous lawyer Eyjolf Bolverksson, who subsequently continually tries to invalidate the suit on petty technicalities, and eventually succeeds. Which is an ambivalent outcome because he gets killed for it. Though he is not an attorney in a strict sense (because Old Icelandic law had no such institution), he acts just like one. Strangely, his amorality is not so much demonstrated by his playing on technicalities (which is common tactics), or his support of a guilty party (the killers never deny the deed, which legally is only the usual manslaughter, not murder), but by his acceptance of a gold bracelet as a payment in advance, which is against conventions and perceived as a dishonest act.
  • Earlier in his life, Edgar from the Night Watch novels was a very successful small town attorney. Edgar is a Dark Other. Do the math.
  • In No Way to Treat a First Lady, Beth MacMann is represented by the famous trial lawyer Boyce "Shameless" Baylor, who didn't exactly get his nickname from defending sympathetic people and companies.
  • Surprisingly subverted in One Of Us Is Lying.The lawyers are consummate professionals giving perfectly good advice, which the characters just find it impractical to follow. However, their job is to protect their own client, not the rest of the Four, nor to solve the murder. Eli, who works for a non-profit called Until Proven, is downright heroic.
  • Napoleon Chotas in The Other Side of Midnight and its sequel Memories of Midnight specializes in getting wealthy, powerful clients declared not guilty of their crimes — especially when there's a ton of evidence that would support a guilty verdict. In Memories of Midnight, he drinks the poison a woman used to kill her husband to prove to the jury that it wasn't actually poison at all; in truth, it was poison and he barely manages to get his stomach pumped afterward. In The Other Side of Midnight, he is immediately hired by Constantin Demeris to represent his mistress Noelle in her murder trial, and does a stunning job of it. However, Constantin has Napoleon lie to Noelle and her lover (the other defendant) that if they plead guilty, they'll get a lighter sentence, when, in fact, they'll be put to death by a firing squad; this is Constantin's way to punish the lovers for crossing him. The sequel reveals Napoleon's regret; he too fell in love with Noelle. Constantin tries to have him killed to hide his crimes, but Napoleon survives to successfully defend him in his own murder trial — and immediately afterward, kills him and himself.
  • Annawake Fourkiller, the merciless Cherokee attorney from the novel Pigs in Heaven. She doesn't do much direct lawyering, but she's definitely amoral, with her constant bantering that all white people should be held accountable for the Trail of Tears, her near-stalker-like following of the main character, and attempts to take her daughter away. And, near the end of the novel, when her elderly uncle tells her off, she responds by beating him with a shoe. She does mellow out eventually.
  • Saad X. Saad of Plain Heathen Mischief has a machine in his office that, when a quarter is inserted, spits out a gumball of a random flavor. He tells Joel that it's a metaphor for the justice system—you might not get the gumball you want at first, but you'll get it eventually if you keep putting money in. (Edmund, who has a grudge against the legal system, jimmies the lock with a pocket knife and grabs a free gumball.)
  • Katz in The Postman Always Rings Twice. He manages to get the protagonists acquitted - though he knows that they're guilty of murder - just to win a bet with the prosecutor.
  • Rumpole of the Bailey. The main character is a deeply honest criminal defense barrister who has successfully defended known criminals on more than one occasion (even murderers, though he doesn't usually discover this until after the verdict has been passed). His colleagues run the gamut from petty and mercenary to almost as upstanding as Rumpole (one is a member of a group called Lawyers As Christians), sometimes within the confines of the same story. Rumpole draws the line at representing someone who has said, in so many words, "I did it", often desperately trying to shut his clients up before they can spout Too Much Information. And he will have nothing to do with anything resembling subornation of perjury.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Played with. On one side is Nikki Quinn, a defense attorney. On the other side is Jack Emery, a prosecuting attorney. Nikki defends a woman who shot the man who raped and murdered her daughter, and she shot the guy after the guy was found not guilty! Jack prosecutes the woman, which is ironic, because he prosecuted that murdering rapist and failed to convict the guy. Nikki is portrayed as the sympathetic one, and Jack is portrayed as the total Jerkass in that situation. You would find it hard to believe that Nikki and Jack are girlfriend and boyfriend! To Jack's credit, he did reveal in his thoughts that he is not heartless, and that he doesn't know what he would have done if he had a daughter who was raped and murdered. Funny enough, Nikki becomes a vigilante, Jack becomes an ally of the Vigilantes, and so does a defense attorney named Lizzie Fox. In the book The Jury, a defense attorney named Allison Banks, against all advice, defends the Barringtons, a group of slimeballs who let a herd of horses starve to death and only used them for profit. Nikki's firm suffered a major blow in its reputation, and Nikki fired and punched out Banks in short order. Then it turns out that Banks was essentially in bed with the Barringtons, the judge presiding over their case, receiving kickbacks from them, and was not really Allison Banks. It turned out that Allison died years ago, and that an imposter had assumed her identity. Unbelievable!
  • Atty. Benjamin "Ben" Arcinas of Smaller & Smaller Circles certainly counts as one, since he prefers to chase the limelight with sensational cases involving high-profile victims instead of focusing on more important crimes. He almost callously dismisses the Payatas murders and even has a generic street urchin framed for them until the next murder surfaces and bites Arcinas in the ass, seriously jeopardizing his career. Oddly enough, he's never shown doing any actual legal work, even as simple as drawing up legal documents; in fact, he plays more of a detective role, albeit a fairly incompetent and self-serving one. (Truth in Television, as Philippine lawyers are often appointed to various government posts, at times even to positions far beyond their strict area of legal expertise and often regardless of their actual administrative ability.)
  • The Sweet Hereafter: in the original novel by Russell Banks, Mitchell Stephens clearly comes across as one to many of the townsfolk. However, his reasoning is more complex: he's a shark in court, going after what he perceives as huge, uncaring entities who try to cut costs, in order to make it more expensive for them.
  • Time Terminal 86 of Time Scout doesn't allow lawyers on board, because the head of the station doesn't like them.
  • Lawrence Block's Martin Ehrengraf would frequently get his clients off by framing and murdering another person. His motto is "every one of my clients is innocent", which he believes so fervently he's willing to sink to any low to prove it.
  • Edward St. John "Loophole" Latham in Wild Cards. No one can tell if the titular virus burned away his conscience or if he's naturally the best lawyer in the world. In a later book, it's implied that the wild card has nothing to do with him being the best lawyer in the world. He contracts the virus, and is given the ability to Body Surf, as well as create other Body Surfers by sexual intercourse.
  • Since Year Zero features lawyers in the music industry, examples of this trope abound considering that they all exist to exploit copyright law. One of which happens to be the protagonist.
  • Willie Stark of All the King's Men is this, as well as a thinly-veiled allusion to the controversial Louisiana governor Huey Long. In a unique twist on the trope, he's actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believes that he has to play dirty in order to do right by his clients and his constituents, but the moral strain of what he does drives him to alcoholism.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has Rauol Duke's traveling companion, the 300 pound Samoan lawyer Dr. Gonzo. He's greedy and self-indulgent, and spends most of the book out of his mind on drugs. He also gives terrible advice, which mainly consists of advising Duke to do drugs and break the law. He's based on the real life antipoverty and Latino rights lawyer Oscar Acosta, who was about as wild as Gonzo, but dedicated his life to more worthy causes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Almost all the defense attorneys on the Law & Order shows would fit this trope like a glove. Incidentally, an episode of the show (Serena Southerlyn era) had an attorney on trial give a very stirring closing argument about why defense lawyers were necessary, even though everyone hates them. He still was found guilty for not reporting the location of his client's murder pit, though he reappeared about year later (with the implication that his conviction got overturned on appeal).
    • As well as some of the prosecutors. Jack "Hang 'Em High" McCoy, in particular, is known for hiding evidence, bullying witnesses, and generally abusing the law to get convictions. Although McCoy can generally be characterised as playing hard, but within legal limits, this isn't always the case. Withholding evidence, for example, is illegal when the evidence is sufficient to prove innocence (though prosecutors have only rarely been punished for this in Real Life). McCoy at least (usually) had the good graces to feel bad about some of his less proud moments, and also often has people telling him, "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!" when he goes overboard.
    • If a defense attorney has a recurring role on the show, then he or she will probably be sympathetic or pure evil, in terms of pulling any trick up their sleeves to win. Most of them took their losses gratefully, and one wizened attorney expressed relief that his client—a rapist—was put away, as he has a daughter himself.
    • One of the few exceptions is a recurring lawyer on SVU played by Annie Potts, who gets brought in whenever the show decides to have a really sympathetic defendant.
      • And Stabler is sort of a one-man justification squad for the trope, proving that we actually need amoral attorneys. He's a protagonist and easy to sympathize with, but he does a lot of stuff that's ethically questionable (legally speaking, it's not questionable, it's flat out illegal).
      • Barry Moredock (played by John Cullum) is a rare example of this kind of attorney cast in a positive light: He's a firm believer in constitutional rights and will defend someone whose rights he thinks are being violated, even if he personally thinks his client is a scumbag (one such client was a young Neo-Nazi who was known to hae murdered several people for no other reason than their ethnicity).
    • An interesting twist occurs in a episode where one of McCoy's subordinates is forced to act as a defense attorney. The moment she is teased for "working for the dark side", McCoy instantly lays down the law, saying that she is acting as a proper lawyer and any personnel of his office giving her a hard time for doing her duty would be punished with reassignment to traffic court.
    • Paul Robinette, a former prosecutor for the first 3 seasons of the show came back as a reaccurring guest star and having become an amoral attorney in his absence.
    • Law & Order: UK decides to put this trope up to 11 with the first episode, with a barrister nicknamed "Limbo" for how low he'll go. So far, the other barristers have been of varying moral fibre.
    • L&O's definitive example has to be Ben Stone's nemesis, Arthur Gold, who could (and did) often goad Stone into legal mistakes simply by looking like he was enjoying himself while defending obvious scumbags.
    • Lampshaded in Trial By Jury when Tracey Kibre talks to the opposing counsel:
      Norman Rothenberg: You're wasting your time in the DA's office. I could triple what you make.
      Tracey Kibre: You don't want me, Norman. I have scruples.
      Norman Rothenberg: They have pills for that.
    • The killer in the episode "By Perjury" is a lawyer, and Cutter explicitly describes him as the adversarial system gone insane: he's willing to do anything, including murder, to win the massive lawsuit he's involved in. McCoy remarks that he sounds like Cutter's evil twin.
    • One of the worst examples, on both sides of the fence, was "For The Defense"'s former ADA turned defense attorney for a mobster who had a long habit of putting contracts out on witnesses against his cases, then attempting to blackmail the DA's office to get out from under several recent murders.
    • Then there's Dean "What're you offering" Connors, - McCoy says that Dean's not a bad attorney, he's just morally opposed to hard work and so will usually take any offer from the DA regardless of his client's guilt or innocence.
  • Bones has the usual examples as prosecutors, as you'd expect of a Forensic Drama. The notable example isn't a direct one, as Bones isn't an attorney, but the exact same Unfortunate Implications of the trope are explored in episode 1x08 The Girl in the Fridge; Bones and an Old Flame turned Rival are opposing experts in a murder trial. Bones clinically delivers her conclusions, her ex makes somewhat less professional conclusions while chatting up the jury - and implies that Bones isn't really as smart as she sounds. In between sessions, her ex states that he's merely "playing the game" - he's supposed to argue that the evidence supports the defendant, just as she's for the prosecution. In-universe, Bones' consultant argues for impartiality and sweet-talking the jury, but sees nothing wrong with her ex using inside knowledge(which he got by sleeping with her) to attack her character instead of the evidence(the prosecution objects and the judge sustainsnote , but Brennan's consultant waves it off as a technicality; "He looks like a regular guy who's not allowed to speak the truth because the stupid rules get in the way."). This leads into the same Unfortunate Implications as Amoral Attorneys - that scientists aren't supposed to be impartial, but to have agreed in advance as to who is guilty no matter which side they're on.
  • Cop Rock: the spin doctors hired by the legal team sing about how they will portray Vincent LaRusso as having shot the suspect in self-defense. Cop Rock - No Problem
  • James Sinclair, Esq. on NYPD Blue is a brilliant lawyer who has no qualms about defending mob bosses or other high-profile criminals. He usually gets them acquitted to, which doesn't endear him to the detectives.
  • Darrin Russom of Homicide: Life on the Street. Defends most of the series' suspects.
  • Maurice Levy of The Wire. He not only defends members of the Barksdale gang (as well as other drug crews), but introduces them to investors, advises them on who 'needs to go', and sells confidential court papers under the counter to all comers thanks to a stooge in the courthouse
    • Levy is at least realistic in that he doesn't just defend the drug lords because he's evil, but rather because he makes extra profit doing it. When he learns that Marlo Stanfield is using a cell phone, he says that he'll be making a lot of money from Marlo soon because the cops will have charges against him soon.
  • A very evil corporate lawyer in a Vengeance Unlimited episode was resorting to blackmail to defend a polluting corporation, and already planned to sue back the Ill Girl's mother for libel. Naturally, being Vengeance Unlimited, the Smug Snake gets what he deserves.
  • Wolfram and Hart, the Evil Demonic Law Firm from Angel, exemplify this trope in spades: Immoral Attorney, actually. Defending human and nonhuman evil-doers is their purpose in life. And they have ninjas and special ops teams.
    • The attorneys we actually meet tend to range from common Morally grey (Lindsey McDonald, who seeks power above all else, though maintaining some semblance of conscience) to villains (Holland Manners and Lilah Morgan (although she arguably becomes more morally gray in Season 4note ), who not only strive for power but are capable of sacrificing nearly anything for it).
  • One interesting example would be The Practice, where some of the protagonists often represent murderers and drug dealers using questionable methods.
    • And the prosecutors aren't always a pillar of ethics either.
  • This trope is parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look which features a sketch about two lazy script writers who do not research the films and TV shows they write. One of their productions is a parody of "Shark" about a defense attorney becoming a prosecutor. When the character is asked why he used to defend known rapists, he responds, "I don't know, I guess I just liked rapists." Then he laughs and says that that's not the real reason.
    • Also, from the Inebriati sketch: "Yes! I got that guy off that vicious sex murder even though he obviously did it!"
  • Self-proclaimed "Super Lawyer" Kitaoka Shuuichi (secretly Kamen Rider Zolda) from Kamen Rider Ryuki falls under this: he fights only for himself and refuses cases when he sees them as impossible to win, halfway frivolous, or he just doesn't like the client, although he gets enough characterization to qualify as an Anti-Villain. He defends the murderer Asakura Takeshi (later Kamen Rider Ouja), but knowingly withholds evidence that could have acquitted him. Asakura spends the rest of the series trying to kill Kitaoka.
  • Criminal Justice, a five-part 2008 BBC1 drama, features a barrister who makes up a self-defense defense for the main character (a guy who doesn't remember what happened). The drama got a complaint from the head of the Bar Council, the UK's lawyer group. Peter Moffat responded that said head had recently punched his opponent, which is a rather weak response.
  • Alan Shore started out in The Practice (and in Boston Legal, although he became less scummy as the series went on) as an exemplary example of an Amoral Attorney. His unethical behavior caused him to be fired from the firm in The Practice, which he successfully sues and, after stealing client files, goes to Boston Legal's firm of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt. One of the best moments of his that shows just how amoral he is can be found halfway down here, with him browbeating the nebbish store clerk who saw his client, a very wealthy woman and kleptomaniac, stuff a scarf into her purse:
    "He would fire me, Miles, if I didn't explore every nuance and shadow of your personality. Every secret place and insufficiency in the hours that you will spend in that witness chair, Miles, in front of all those friends you invited. And when I'm finished with you, even they will think you are a vindictive, pathetic little sycophant who has falsely accused and probably framed a fine woman for something she never did and never would do only so that you could get at long last your moment of attention. By the time I'm done, I'll have you believing you put that scarf in her handbag. Lee Tyler can afford to hire any attorney in the world. She's chosen me. Do you wonder if I'm any good, Miles? Do you really wonder?"
  • Barrister Michael Kidd from the Australian TV cop series Phoenix and its Law Procedural spin-off, Janus. Based on a famous real-life Melbourne lawyer, he's despised for defending copkiller Malcolm Hennessy, but is respected for his abilities as well — the main detective protagonist doesn't hesitate to recommend Kidd to a fellow officer who'd been accused of police brutality. On another occasion, Kidd is assigned to defend a child molester, and though Kidd listens to his briefing with a cold silence quite unlike his usual 'average bloke' demeanour, he still defends him well.
  • The protagonists of both the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason and its spiritual successor, Matlock, handle legal morality a very odd way. While both Perry Mason and Ben Matlock are successful and honorable defense attorneys, they always win by uncovering the real guilty party and dramatically presenting proof of their guilt in court. In other words, in order to redeem his role as a defense attorney, each hero has to also do the prosecutor's job, and offer up someone else to take the innocent defendant's place in jail. Prosecuting attorneys and rival lawyers in both shows are likely to fit this trope perfectly.
  • In the 1990s Superman series Lois & Clark, an episode involved Superman being sued for injuring a man whilst saving his life, which eventually snowballed into a class action lawsuit against him. He thus had to find an "honest lawyer" to defend him, and only managed to find one. In the whole of Metropolis. Willing to defend Superman. For all its shiny loveliness, this suggests that Metropolis is actually one Crapsack City.
  • The overarching baddie on Sunset Beach, a fairly trashy soap, was a rich attorney who might have modeled on Benjamin Brafman. In addition to abusing his loved ones and driving his wife to drink, he threatened to throw her into a sanitarium if she tried to leave. He did bail her and her friends out of legal troubles, but always kept the evidence under lock and key in case she got any funny ideas about divorce proceedings.
  • Recently, Karl Mayer of Desperate Housewives has revealed himself to be one. If the promos are any indication, not only is he not above cheating Bree's soon-to-be-ex spouse out of money he is entitled to, he is also willing to talk Bree into staging a robbery in her own house.
    • The prosecutor in Bree's murder trial is willing to blackmail Renee with having her fiance deported in order to extract a testimony against her best friend.
  • Battlestar Galactica: Baltar's defence lawyer Romo Lampkin manages to gain Lee Adama's respect even though he's an unapologetic Manipulative Bastard.
    • Also applies to Caprica in the form of Lampkin's mentor, Lee's grandfather Joseph. Joe Adama had been a lawyer for the Ha'la'tha—the Tauron Mob—and did this job dutifully. Backstory holds that he eventually broke with the Ha'la'tha and became a civil-liberties lawyer; he's the one who taught Lampkin that even the lowest, guiltiest scumbag deserves a good defense.
  • Jeff Winger in Community is an unapologetic version of this trope...at least for now. The very fact that he lied about having a valid college degreenote  is the reason he's at community college in the first place. A colleague of his said the pair (known as Sundance and Tango - they had different partners) were called 'the litter bugs' by prosecutors because they put so much trash back on the streets.
    • He's apparently outgrown those tendencies by the end of season 3. Ironically, in Basic Lupine Urology he actually calls out Annie on this. She is serving as their not lawyer in the not trial over the question of who murdered their Yam. After causing the not defendant to break down in tears and confess, she is celebrating while Jeff is pointing out that he didn't fully confess and that someone else actually did it.
    • He made a full recovery by season 5, where he opens his own firm specifically to help the little guy. Unfortunately, it went under and he had to settle for teaching law at Greendale.
  • One episode of The Bill had a drug dealer pretend to be a solicitor so he could sit in on the interviews of his subordinates...
  • James Morgan "Saul Goodman" McGill from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a hucksterish defense attorney with cheesy TV ads who will take any paying client and resort to the most extreme arguments on their behalf, though he does have some loose limits. Three things keep him from being nothing but a straight-up Ambulance Chaser: 1) he's very, very good at his job, 2) he's just as interested in going outside the law for his own personal gain as he is in winning cases (if not a lot more interested) and 3) he's deliberately using his carefully built up image to sucker others into underestimating the extent of what he's capable of both inside and outside the courtroom. Interestingly, while more than willing to go to downright immoral (not to mention criminal) lengths for a client, he never double-crosses one even when presented with golden opportunities to do so with little chance of reprisals, and more than once puts himself in considerable personal danger to help one.
    • Better Call Saul:
      • Kim Wexler is not as innocent as she wants to paint herself, being more than willing to orchestrate a scam of her own to get Huell off the hook for assaulting a cop, a scam that involves a massive fictional letter writing campaign to create the false threat of a nonexistent media circus.
      • While Howard Hamlin is pretty much a straight-arrow lawyer through and through, his concealment of the truth about Chuck's illness from his clients falls into this as that's the sort of activity that should leave him and everyone at HHM subject to disciplinary hearings and malpractice suits.
      • Chuck McGill continually hides behind "letter of the law" and "spirit of the law" in his efforts to undermine Jimmy, and proves to be petty and vindictive, as shown by his reaction when Howard decides he has to go in response to his illness becoming public knowledge and the insurance company wanting to hike their malpractice premiums.
    • Breaking Bad: Besides Saul, you have Dan Wachsberger, a crooked lawyer who is used by Mike to ensure that Gus's former henchmen continue receiving their hazard pay after Gus's death, at least, until Hank is able to get him to flip on Mike. Dan is subsequently shanked by Neo-Nazis in prison on Walt's orders.

  • Appears on an episode of Taxi. An old woman who is a con artist sues the taxi company for damages after being injured. She had previously faked injury in the past to pursue false damage claims against other companies as well. However, this time the woman informs her lawyer that she really did fall and break her hip, meaning the lawsuit is completely legitimate. The lawyer remarks: "Well, there's a first time for everything."
  • In one episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Lois's mother suffered an accident at the family's home and sued them. When it was revealed that they had no insurance and their house was the only thing that could be taken from them, the lawyer representing the plaintiff withdrew himself from the case because, while he had no qualms about sending poor people to live on the streets, he would not do it for only 40% of a house that fits in his garage.
    • When Francis decided that he wanted to be emancipated, one of his friends from military school introduces him to an amoral attorney who specializes in legally emancipating kids from their parents that have been exiled to boarding schools and military schools. His secret is that he lets the kids forge their parents signatures IN FRONT OF HIM so that the paperwork can be processed with no delay..
  • An episode of Tales from the Crypt, "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime", featured one who ended up in a nightmarish Kangaroo Court.
  • An episode of Only Fools and Horses involves Del suing the brewery for a fall suffered by Uncle Albert. He hires a lawyer called Solly Atwell, who Rodney describes as being "more bent than the villains".
  • The more commonly seen prosecutors seen in The Defenders. Thomas Cole never sees anything positive in the defendants, doing everything he can to get the most of their guilty verdict. A female prosecutor seen in the first few episodes is called out on it when she tries to get a full guilty verdict on a client that she knows is not guilty. The titular duo themselves are also considered this by their opposition, despite doing everything they can to get the truth out of their clients and get the best win they can get for them, i.e. getting a week in jail compared to six months.
  • In Boardwalk Empire
    • The ruthless and cold-blooded mob boss Arnold Rothstein has Bill Fallon, who tries to cultivate this image but comes off more like a gangster with a law license rather than a cynical practitioner. Fallon is very impressed by his client's ability to commit perjury with eloquence and with a straight face - so much so that he jokingly tells him that he should consider law school. Rothstein replies that he'd prefer to make an honest living.
    • George Remus is an attorney so amoral that Remus has decided to cast off the attorney job altogether and become a bootlegger instead - while using Remus' knowledge of law to find the correct loopholes in the Volstead Act, of course.
  • Suits features a Villain Protagonist Amoral Attorney (although he's nice-ish to his newbie partner). Also magnificent and hilarious.
  • Adam-12 has a very balanced position in the early episode, "Courtroom", where Reed makes a drug bust with a legally questionable search. In the resulting trial, the defense lawyer gets his client off with a well reasoned argument based on clear legal decisions, but his only response to the client afterward is that the defendant will get his bill. Furthermore, the defense lawyer makes it clear to Reed that he is as committed to his own binding oath to serve his necessary role in the Justice System as the officer is.
  • Franklin & Bash has Damien in the first episode, when he colludes with a CEO to sell out an airline pilot to limit an airline's liability by paying a witness to make false testimony. He gets better as the season progresses.
  • The final season of The Closer, which did a storyline where Brenda and the LAPD are being sued after Brenda leaves a murderer to a lynch mob consisting of gang members who were not thrilled at his crime and his attempt to frame an innocent man for his actions, featured dueling versions of this trope. The lawyer Brenda hires is a brilliant but morally ambiguous ex-district attorney who was forced out because of his methods and the opposing council was an equally devious attorney who's case was largely bolstered by an anonymous leak in the LAPD which made him aware of a good amount of morally ambiguous behavior on the part of Brenda.
    • Deconstructed with a recurring villain, a defense attorney for sex offenders who may or may not be a rapist himself and teaming up with his clients to drug and rape women with their help. In the end however, it turns out that he's innocent of the rapes after one of his victims identifies a bartender as the accomplice of the guy who raped her and several other women. His final appearance leaves it vague towards whether or not he was truly innocent though as he threatens to sue the department and Brenda if they don't leave him alone (as Brenda and her fellow detectives had, after their first encounter, made a point to tell anyone who brought his name up, that he was a sexual predator, damaging his reputation as a result).
  • In Brazilian soap-opera Chocolate com Pimenta (Chocolate with Pepper), a woman wanted to con her deceased brother's widow out of the fortune he bequeathed to her. In order to do so, she forged a document where said brother allegedly signed over everything to her to protect him from being tricked by gold-diggers. Her accomplice suggested hiring a honest lawyer to take the case to the courts because: a) honest lawyers would be less likely to figure out the document was a fake; b) even dishonest lawyers would refuse the case once they figured out; and c) the more regarded their lawyer would be for honesty, the more likely would be their chances a judge would rule in their favor.
  • JAG:
    • Mic Brumby becomes one for a while when he resigns from the Royal Australian Navy and comes back as a civilian in the 6th season. He took cases where people were suing the Navy, which didn't sit well with anyone at the JAG office.
    • Loren Singer.
    • CIA counsel Catherine Gale comes across as this in "Need To Know".
    I'm doing my job right, I'm doing the right thing.
  • Late in CSI: Miami's final season, the team determined that Malcolm McDowell's character made a habit of finding ways to tamper with forensic evidence (breaking the chain of custody among other things) to make it inadmissible.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "Trial of a Time Lord", the Valeyard, a villainous prosecutor and future regeneration of the Doctor, accepts a bribe of the Doctor's remaining regenerations to falsify evidence in order to secure the Sixth Doctor's conviction.
  • One episode of Flashpoint featured a hostage taker who spent ten years of his life in jail (starting at age 15) after his cellmate falsely testified that he had confessed to raping and murdering his best friend. Turns out the prosecuting attorney was responsible for this, and he has done this many times in the past. His motivation isn't solely to maintain a 100% conviction rating. The attorney was a Knight Templar who genuinely believed anyone who is accused of a crime is guilty. As a result, he felt justified in doing anything to secure convictions.
  • In the Grimm episode "One Angry Fuchsbau", the Monster of the Week Barry Kellogg is a defense attorney who uses his Ziegevolk Mind Control abilities for witness and jury tampering. The protagonists slip him a potion to neutralize his abilities.
  • On Walker, Texas Ranger, basically any lawyer who isn't Alex Cahill. Even her fellow prosecutors, who are cynical and jaded in contrast to her idealism, as well as occasionally corrupt and incompetent.
  • How to Get Away with Murder follows the professor and students of a law school course intended to train new Amoral Attorneys. Said professor informally calls the course the same name as the title of the show. It's not a joke. It should be noted that Professor Keating isn't a bad person as such, she just takes the attitude that whatever the client's done, she will get them found innocent.
  • Shark was all about an amoral defense attorney who became a prosecutor after a client he'd gotten acquitted went on to murder someone. It should be noted that Sebastian Stark, while a classic rule-bender, did have his standards and wasn't nearly as much of a dick as some of the defense attorneys he went up against.
  • The Glades: The Victim of the Week in "Marriage Is Murder" is a slimy divorce attorney who is loathed by everyone who knows him. It actually turns out that multiple people had tried to kill him, and Jim has to figure out which one actually succeeded.
  • The Wrong Mans has a variation. The titular duo have one of these hired by Carlos Espinosa to supposedly testify on their behalf. They actually don't want him there, though, since Espinosa hired him to ensure they wouldn't squeal.
  • Dexter: Played with in season three. Assistant DA Miguel Prado accuses his rival defense attorney Ellen Wolf of being one of these for "gaming the system" to let criminals off the hook. She in turn accuses him of judicial misconduct to get convictions. Miguel is eventually revealed to have manipulated Dexter all along to learn the art of murder from him. Miguel lacks the very integrity that he accuses Ellen of not having as he not only wants to subvert the legal process to kill criminals, but anyone who pisses him off.
  • As a realistic Law Procedural, every lawyer in The Good Wife is amoral when it comes to defending their clients. Some are also corrupt, granted (in "Hail Mary", ADA Geneva Pine is shown to have hidden evidence that would have exonerated Cary Agos, evidence not fabricated by Kalinda, underline), but even the ethical ones will resort to any number of underhanded but technically legal antics. One memorable case of the latter was Alicia Florrick getting around a super-injunction by having her husband's campaign manager use his army of Twitter users to put their opponent's dirty dealings back into the public spotlight.
    • The Good Fight spinoff introduces Roland Blum, a Roy Cohn-like lawyer, who is fond of theatrics and underhanded tricks. He doesn't skimp on the f-word or racist and sexist terms, but he usually never underestimates his opponents and plays dirty. He states repeatedly that his goal isn't to prove that his side is right, it's to portray the other side as wrong. He ends up getting Maia fired by calling the cops on the drugs he gave her.
  • The two-part pilot for Street Justice gives us the ADA who, besides acting like a Jerkass, once tried to persuade Adam to perjure himself in court in an attempt to convict a defendant.
  • Guilt: Stan is pretty cheerfully amoral, and shows no signs of caring about anything apart from the money he makes.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • The Crown Prosecutor in "Hangman", who does everything to make sure the defendant gets hanged, even the obviously innocent ones. Once a judge suspects his methods, he confronts the judge, kills him, and frames a known criminal for it.
    • Leslie Garland in the two-part "On the Waterfront" has passed his bar exam and is working for one of the Crown Prosecutors—specifically the one handling the charges against Drs. Ogden and Grace and the other suffragettes arrested at the protest march. Garland offers to have a word with his new boss in the doctors' favour, but both of them refuse his help. He later ensures Dr. Grace's charges aren't dropped immediately no doubt because she threw him over after she learned he'd posed as the infamous James Gilies and threatened the lives of Julia and William, and he gloats over her incarceration. Julia and her attorney present the Prosecutor with evidence of his terror campaign, and Garland is fired. He drops by Julia's office and gets a surprise of his own: a fearsome William Murdoch who promises to take off his badge and settle their differences if Garland bothers Julia again.
  • Murder, She Wrote:
    • In "Trails and Tribulations", an Ambulance Chaser attempts to sue Jessica in a wrongful death suit, figuring that her insurance company will settle out-of-court rather than face the hassle of a trial. At the end of the episode, he is disbarred after it is revealed that he bribed a witness to change his testimony.
    • The Victim of the Week in "See You in Court, Baby" is a ruthless divorce lawyer who persuades a woman into pursuing a divorce she doesn't actually want.
  • Hunter: Played with, as some lawyers depicted do fit the mold of "amoral person who almost seems to want their client to commit more crimes", which is not atypical for a Cowboy Cop show. However, some (usually female) lawyers do genuinely believe in the legal process and are willing to work with Hunter when they feel something obviously suspicious is going on.
  • The Defenders (2017):
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Matt Murdock himself is a very good lawyer. But to go after criminals like Wilson Fisk, he often combines his lawyer work with his nighttime activities as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
      • Samantha Reyes, the District Attorney for Manhattan, will go through anything, including illegal measures, to get by. As Matt Murdock puts it, Reyes wouldn't even buy a pack of gum if it didn't further her career. Likewise, Karen uncovers that Reyes has a habit of backstabbing her own associates to save her own ass.
      • Marci Stahl, Foggy's ex-girlfriend and an attorney at Landman & Zack. When we first meet her, she seems selfish and mostly interested in her own career. However, she has standards, and Foggy's appeals to how she used to "have a soul" lead her to turn against her bosses, who are deep in Wilson Fisk's pockets. It earns her a much better job at Hogarth Chao & Benowitz.
      • Sadly, Marci's the only Landman & Zack attorney to actually have a soul. In a flashback in "Nelson v. Murdock," the firm is shown suing a plaintiff who became severely sick for working for Roxxon Oil. They sue for "damages" after the man told his doctor about his work to find out what had made him sick. Parish Landman claims that the man had violated his confidentiality agreement by sharing this info with his doctor. Matt and Foggy are so disgusted by this that they decide to start their own firm as a result. In the present day, Parish Landman is on Wilson Fisk's payroll, and is among those arrested by the FBI when Marci and Hoffman turn on Fisk.
      • Big Ben Donovan is a criminal lawyer to many prominent members of New York City's criminal underworld. In particular, Wilson Fisk and Mariah Dillard.
      • In Luke Cage (2016), Donovan makes time to get Cottonmouth out of jail after Cottonmouth is arrested for killing Scarfe. He is later sent by Mariah Dillard to interrupt Misty Knight's interrogation of Candace Miller, to make sure that Candace sticks to the false story Shades is paying her to give to the police implicating Luke in Cottonmouth's murder.
      • In the second season he gets much, much worse. In season 2 episode 8, when Mariah appears to have run out of money because Bushmaster bankrupted her, he immediately declares he will no longer be representing her or Shades... while both of them are in custody and being questioned by the police. This is known as "abandonment of a client," and is grounds for disbarment in New York State. He then goes to work for his former client's opponents in a legal (as well as illegal) dispute. Also grounds for disbarment. Then when he realizes Bushmaster is more likely to kill him than pay him, he goes back to his old client and does what he not only should have done instead of leaving his old client in the lurch, but should have advised Mariah to do before the temporary cash flow issue came up in the first place (namely, report that Piranha Jones, the guy with power of attorney over Mariah's assets, had been kidnapped; and freeze his ability to make money transfers, on the grounds that duress invalidates any and all such transactions).
      • Donovan is a bit less involved in the day to day operations of Fisk's criminal enterprises. In season 2, it seems that outside of arranging money transfers like setting up a protection fund for Vanessa or the movement of funds to ensure a guard gets Frank Castle to blow his trial to meet Fisk, he's not too involved in the organization. As season 3 shows, most of the shady street stuff in Fisk's outfit is handled by Felix Manning, with Donovan and his partner Nicholas Lee (who according to Donovan's actor Danny Johnson is Donovan's insurance policy) primarily being invested in using legal means to help Fisk re-obtain "Rabbit in a Snowstorm".

    • Jeri Hogarth, at first. She starts off in season 1 of Jessica Jones (2015) as the kind of lawyer who manipulates juries into thinking “beyond a reasonable doubt” means you need thirty witnesses or a video of the defendant doing it. She is willing to hire a clearly unstable Jessica Jones for private investigation work (even wants to bring her in-house), and even is willing to try using Kilgrave to get her ex-spouse Wendy to agree to lesser assets in their divorce. This backfires hard on Jeri, as Wendy gets killed and her secretary/mistress Pam gets thrown in jail. The whole ordeal with Kilgrave leads Jeri to clean up her act, and when she turns up in Iron Fist (2017), she's a much nicer person, who helps Danny Rand reclaim his identity and turns out to have also tended to the Rand estate after Danny's parents were killed. Of course, season 2 of Jessica Jones sees Jeri resort to her old tricks: her response to being conned by Inez and Shane is to buy a gun from Turk Barrett and manipulate Inez into murdering Shane. And she blackmails Chao and Benowitz into giving her a larger buyout offer.
    • What exactly are Linda Chao and Steven Benowitz up to? Well, they're laundering drug cartels' money into offshore bank accounts. And Benowitz is a closeted gay man who frequents a place called the Chocolate Bar.
  • Chicago Justice: Albert Forest outright proclaims that in contrast to Stone, he doesn't think trials are about anything like justice at all, only winning, and it's his sole concern. He even wrote an entire book asserting this viewpoint.
  • For the People follows both prosecutors and defence attorneys, who both see the other side as this. The Defence is stereotyped as ignoring the importance of the law to do whatever they want and protecting dangerous criminals. The Prosecution is stereotyped as government suck-ups who use the letter of the law to punish innocent civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Dracula (2020)'s version of The Renfield, Frank Renfield, is an attorney who starts groveling at Dracula's feet even before they meet in person and willingly does everything in his power to further the Count's plan for attaining, as Renfield puts it, world domination.

    Music 
  • "Innocence" by Disturbed is about corrupt lawyers and the people they choose to defend for their own benefit.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In a lot of Jewish (and some Christian) folklore, Satan is often portrayed as some sort of Cosmic Prosecution Attorney ("Satan" roughly means "Accuser"). Doesn't make him any less of a prick.
  • In The Four Gospels (especially Luke), lawyers and scribes often invoke the wrath of Jesus for their hypocrisy and unlawfulness.
    Jesus: Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
    Jesus: Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
  • Zeezrom of The Book of Mormon is described as a wealthy lawyer who is "an expert in the devices of the devil," and whose first appearance has him attempt to bribe two prophets with an absurdly large sum of money. In addition, his practice is said to be exploitative and overpriced. As it tends to happen in the Book, he undergoes a Heel–Faith Turn, after which he abandons the practice of law.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In an early Dilbert comic, Dilbert was concerned that a new invention of his might be dangerous, so he decided to seek legal counseling. After explaining his situation to a lawyer, Dilbert asked if he would help. The lawyer replied, "nah, it sounds like I could make more money by suing you."
    • The company lawyer is usually like this, and sometimes downright immoral, and not always towards the side he's representing. In one series of strips, Wally sued them, saying he was being discriminated against because he was bald, nearsighted and boring; the company lawyer told him he "might have a slight bias" (the lawyer was also bald, nearsighted, and boring) and negotiated a huge settlement in Wally's favor.
  • During the later Author Tract years of Chester Gould's run on Dick Tracy, these were a common appearance. The most notorious was Flyface, a man so filthy that flies followed him everywhere. The later introduction of Flyface's family (who, including children, were all similarly disgusting) was apparently enough to get the strip canceled from a couple of papers.
  • Played for Laughs in The Far Side. An explorer discovers a tribe of natives and tries to placate them with beads and trinkets. The tribe responds by sending out their fiercest lawyers, who all chant "Sue him! Sue him!"
  • This trope is one of the main themes of Non Sequitur.
  • Steve Dallas from Bloom County was clearly amoral, seeing as he defended murderers and other dangerous criminals who were obviously guilty, but he wasn't all too good at it. (And his clients rarely made it easy for him, doing things like threatening the juries and judges in the middle of closing arguments.) And even he didn't like his job much. When defending Bill the Cat for treason and the prosecutor said he wouldn't plea bargain to anything less than "guilty of anti-state activities", Steve laughed, saying that Bill was guilty of high treason, telling the judge to sentence him to the chair so they could all go home. (Of course, Steve was a pretty rotten person in all regards.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • NWA Wildside manager Jeff G. Bailey was also a lawyer, which presumably explained why his meddling ways hadn't got him fired from the company on the spot, or at the very least got his talent suspended.
  • Bruce Tharpe, the National Wrestling Alliance owner following the seven degrees of hate feud between Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana, was basically described as such by both men, who found his takeover and stripping voting privileges away from the NWA members a farce. He's pretty much proven such to former NWA member New Japan in his efforts to get advantages for Rob Conway, The Killer Elite Squad and Jax Dane.
  • Despite being an attorney Veda Scott didn't come out of the Ring of Honor\SHIMMER Academy this way, initially living up to the good sportsmanship standards of both promotions. Eventually her cowardly nature got the best of her, though, and she began to familiarize herself with all loopholes, legal or otherwise, to make her pro wrestling career easier.
  • David Otunga, another attorney who didn't start out this way, although unlike Scott he was always immoral, he just didn't use his legal background to his advantage until pressed to do so by Johnny Ace, who found Otunga more useful as a lawyer than an admittedly one dimensional wrestler.
  • Sophia Lopez initially seemed like a moral attorney when she campaigned to get the sentences of fan favorite group Caged Heat overturned during Women Of Wrestling's revived third season but Lopez turned out to be using them as pawns in an increasingly complicated plot to destroy independent circuit wrestler Santana Garrett, who her true client, Rich Bitch Lana Star, felt threatened by.

    Radio 
  • In Bleak Expectations a lawyer appears who is so distinguished his name takes 20 minutes to say. He charges by the hour and has bankrupted some clients with a formal conversation.

    Theater 
  • Chicago has the "silver-tongued prince of the court room", Billy Flynn, who takes only high-profile, scandal-ridden cases for the fame and fortune, and is not above Courtroom Antics and using and abusing the court of public opinion via reporters (including having the Chicago-born Rosie blatantly lie that she's a simple Southern girl out of her depth in big-city life).
    Flynn: Objection!
    Judge: Sustained.
    Prosecutor: Your Honor, I haven't even asked a question yet!
  • Roy Marcus Cohn from Angels in America. He was also one in Real Life, naturally, although his villainy in both goes far beyond this.
  • The former page quote from Henry VI, Part 2, though very famous, is really not an example of this trope. The people out to kill all the lawyers are trying to create anarchy.
    • Or possibly a proto-Communist dictatorship:
      Cade: I thank you, good people: there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.
      Dick: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
      Cade: Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.
  • The learned judge in Trial by Jury was once one of these:
    All thieves who could my fees afford
    Relied on my orations
    And many a burglar I've restored
    To his friends and his relations.
  • In The Birds, one of the uninvited visitors is a summoner who wants to be able to fly between the islands and Athens so fast that he can hold the trial without the defendant, so that the decision automatically goes in the prosecution's favor. Then, fly back to the still-en-route defendant's home to confiscate whatever is forfeit (and possibly a little more for himself). Peisthetaerus will have none of this, and Whip It Good ensues.
  • Hugh Dorsey in Parade.
  • The song "Blood in the Water" from Legally Blonde is all about this trope.
    Our topic is blood in the water.
    Kids, it's time you faced,
    law school is a waste,
    oh yes, unless you acquire a taste for
    blood in the water;
    dark and red and raw.
    You're nothing until the thrill of the kill
    becomes your only law!

    Video Games 
  • Igland of the Swift Sword in Neverwinter Nights is willing to apply Insane Troll Logic in order to secure a conviction, doesn't care if there are mitigating factors, and begins screaming about bribery should you succeed. His statement is essentially that "the defendent is a dirty savage and therefore we should hang him." Despite the apparent lack of legal precedent for this tactic, Igland claims never to have lost a case before. Your character is permitted to commit out-and-out bribery and corruption in order to get the defendant off.
  • Toontown Online has seven of these, forming the "Lawbot" faction of the Cogs. They are, going from lowest-level to highest: Bottomfeeder, Bloodsucker, Double-Talker, Ambulance Chaser, Backstabber, Spin Doctor, Legal Eagle, and The Big Wig.
  • "Legal" Lee from the Saints Row series is the player's contact for Insurance Fraud missions. In the beginning of Saints Row 2, he's defending Johnny Gat on a triple-digit murder charge when the player busts up the trial to rescue him. In the aftermath, all Lee does is hide and ask if anybody's hit and needs a lawyer.
  • During one of the Courtroom Episodes of Knights of the Old Republic it's possible for even a light-side Player Character to be the true-to-reality version of this trope. You can get your client acquitted of murder even knowing full well he's guilty, and it is not considered a dark-side action unless you convinced your witnesses to perjure themselves in the course of your investigation.
  • One mission in Hitman: Contracts (a series where your assassination targets are usually terrorists, mafia bosses, arms dealers and other scoundrels) has you assassinating not only a rich Serial Killer, but also his family lawyer who helped him get away unpunished with kidnapping and killing a small child.
    • In the newer game there's Ken Morgan, who will sink to any means necessary to win his cases including bribing officials and blackmailing witnesses. He even self-describes himself as a fixer first, attorney second. Like the above target, he is being targeted along with his client's son for tampering in the investigation over a murder the son committed. There's also Yuki Yamazaki, a former Yakuza lawyer who has become an agent for Providence.
    Ken Morgan: The things I have done for [Thomas Cross] would get my grandchildren disbarred.
  • Max McMann, the protagonist of Devil's Attorney is a typical example. In the game, he takes on every criminal who are as guilty as sin, but Max keeps making up lame excuses for their behavior to the prosecutors and then crushes them in court through various Courtroom Antics and, sometimes, outright illegal means (e.g. one of the skills Max can learn is "Tamper with Evidence"). In the final case of the first chapter, Max openly admits that his client will buy him a new apartment and an office if he wins. The final chapter reveals that his father is a famous prosecutor who's ashamed of his son. Guess who prosecutes the final case and is the toughest opponent in the game?
  • Persona 5 has a sympathetic example in Sae Niijima, Makoto's older sister and legal guardian, and the public prosecutor in charge of the Phantom Thieves case. While once far more heroic and idealistic, the pressures of raising Makoto by herself, along with the pressure from her line of work and being overshadowed by her male co-workers, have left Sae a cynical, bitter shell who no longer wishes to pursue justice and simply wants to do whatever it takes to win a case, even if she has to twist the truth and manipulate evidence to make the innocent appear guilty. By the time of the Casino heist, Akechi suspects that if they don't change Sae's heart, either the Phantom Thieves will be arrested, or someone else might be set up to take the fall for their crimes. While the Thieves don't steal her heart, she does change for the better as a result of an emotional plea by Makoto toward her Shadow. In the ending, Sae, having Took a Level in Idealism, decides to quit her job at the Public Prosecutors Office and become an attorney, believing it's a better way to pursue justice.
    • A less sympathetic example is Sae's boss, who's implied to have done some illegal things to get ahead, even before joining a criminal conspiracy to exploit the Mental World in order to make Masayoshi Shidou Prime Minister, and covering up the conspiracy's crimes. He ultimately plans on having the protagonist arrested and killed while in police custody.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, this seems to be the opinion that a few Marvel characters have of Phoenix Wright. One of these characters is Jean Grey, who outright claims that, between the two of them, he is far more hated than she could ever be. Keep in mind that Jean is a cosmic Terror Hero feared by nearly everyone, and is responsible for the destruction of at least one inhabited planet.
  • The Forger from Town of Salem is a crooked lawyer who forges documents, working for The Mafia. Her role is to rewrite the Last Will of other players, preferably Town Investigatives. Her official backstory has her Trapped by Gambling Debts and forging wills to put money in Fake Charity, until she did it to a family member of The Godfather who made her An Offer You Can't Refuse.

    Visual Novels 
  • This trope is a staple of the Ace Attorney series, with both amoral prosecutors and defense attorneys (though the former are much more abundant):
    • Miles Edgeworth: Perfection-obsessed, but undergoes a lot of Character Development and gets a Heel–Face Turn by the end of the game, is nice to Phoenix outside of court for the rest of the series. Even after this Heel–Face Turn, he does what he needs to to bring out the truth, and can get really cold when doing this. Two shining examples are when he brought up a sensitive issue to get a tight-lipped witness to testify (when we say "sensitive issue", we mean that the witness attempted suicide because of it before) and when he suggested that the defendant, who was eleven years old at the time, after committing the crime, tried to use a machine to brutally dismember the body. Aside from the fact that said girl didn't murder anyone, he was actually completely right- the girl thought her mother was no different than the robots, and that the machine could fix her.
    • Manfred von Karma: Pretty much the ULTIMATE in amoral attorneys - considered a "god of prosecution", he went for forty years undefeated, and was not above resorting to illegal/immoral methods to achieve a guilty verdict, habitually forging evidence and tampering with witnesses. Von Karma was also so obsessed with perfection that when a defense attorney got him penalized in court for the first and only time in his entire career, he took a six-month vacation - also his first and only. The real reason for the vacation was to cover his tracks after he was accidentally shot in the shoulder when he killed the defense attorney responsible. In what is perhaps the most shining example of Disproportionate Retribution in video game history, he then proceeded to raise the victim's son to be a twisted opposite of everything his father stood for, only to have him accused of his own father's murder right before the statute of limitations on the murder ran out, all to get revenge on the victim! He's the Trope image for a damn good reason.
    • The murderer of a defense attorney in the fourth case of Ace Attorney committed the crime because the defense lawyer in question, Robert Hammond, was an Amoral Attorney that convinced him to plead Insanity in court even though he was truly innocent- as a former colleague points out, Hammond never truly believed in his clients. The defendant lost everything that mattered to him as a result of this, and jumped at the chance for revenge.
    • Franziska von Karma from Justice for All: Perfection-obsessed too, coupled with an obsession with succeeding where her adopted brother (Miles Edgeworth) failed, as doing so will make her feel worthy of the von Karma name, as she felt that the adopted Edgeworth had always been better than her. She also badgers witnesses, either with threats of legal action or with her whip. However, like Edgeworth, she seems to be doing her own Heel–Face Turn, as she was an irreplaceable aid to the defense in Case 3-5. The only time she aided the prosecution was when she herself was prosecutor.
    • In the fourth case of Justice For All, this is a major plot point: Phoenix himself eventually figures out that his client is guilty of hiring an assassin, but his partner is being held hostage by that same assassin to get a not guilty verdict, since the assassin has a reputation to keep up. Phoenix goes through much handwringing about what the right thing to do is, especially since his opponent Edgeworth is fresh off a Heel–Face Turn, and letting the client get off would most likely result in an innocent woman being convicted of the murder. Eventually, the player is forced to make a decision between guilty and not guilty when it looks like the attempt to Take a Third Option has been crushed. The choice doesn't actually affect anything, as just before Phoenix speaks up, somebody comes to save the day. But after the trial, Mia Fey tells you to think about the choice you made then as a sign of what being a defense attorney really means to you.
    • Godot (AKA Diego Armando) from Trials and Tribulations: Out for revenge against Wright, who he blames for Mia Fey's death, he covers up a murder he committed (though to save someone else's life), instead of confessing, potentially putting several people in trouble. He's also a little on the unstable side and prone to throwing cups of hot coffee at Phoenix.
    • In Gyakuten Kenji 2, we have prosecutor Blaise Debeste. He ran an illegal auction, selling evidence of past cases to anonymous bidders. He also murdered two people and was part of the group that ordered the assassination of Di-jun Huang, the same incident that ruined the House of Lang's reputation as reputable investigators. He was also the Chief Prosecutor who gave von Karma his only penalty, even though Debeste was the one who provided the forged evidence, and von Karma hadn't known for a change that the evidence was forged.
    • While Winston Payne didn't venture over here, his brother, Gaspen Payne, introduced in Dual Destinies, is pretty much The Bully as a prosecutor, and takes pride in it, calling himself the "Rookie/Defendant Humiliator". At one point, he takes the time to badger the defendant into admitting her guilt, causing the Judge to sustain Athena's objection when his badgering drives her to tears. The post-credits scene also reveals that he actually is more than willing to use questionable methods, leading to him getting looked into by Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth. He returns in Spirit of Justice, where he turns out to have fled to a country that has outlawed defence attorneys simply so he can never lose. When Phoenix Wright decides to go up against him, Gaspen allows it but does not tell him about the Defence Culpability Act and how he will be executed under it if he fails. He even calls for giving the death penalty to a nine-year old child to get Phoenix killed along with him as revenge for his loss in Dual Destinies.
    • Simon Blackquill from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has no problem with threatening witnesses to ensure their cooperation, psychologically manipulating everyone in the courtroom, attacking the defense with a Razor Wind, and siccing his pet hawk on everyone. Oh, and he's a convicted murderer. In actuality, he framed himself for his mentor's murder to protect her traumatized daughter - Athena. Despite being a day away from execution, he doesn't fight back because his death will ensure Athena's safety. He also proves to be firmly on the side of the truth, as he psychologically manipulates the phantom in order to get Athena the chance she needs to prove his identity. He also does not use many dirty tricks when he is prosecuting.
    • Aristotle Means is an amoral attorney teacher, who genuinely believes any and all methods, no matter how unethical or illegal, must be used in order to achieve a goal. To him, the end justifies the means, no matter what. Fortunately, by the time the trial he's introduced in is over, the students realize he was full of crap, and set out to fix the damage he's done. The fact he murdered a fellow professor after being confronted for taking bribes certainly doesn't do him any favors.
    • Phoenix Wright himself stays on the 'protagonist' side of the line, but if he's your lawyer, he will believe in your innocence and defend you to the bitter end whether you want him to or not. He has defended multiple clients who wanted to plead guilty (Lana Skye, Ron DeLite, etc.) This is mostly because of his undying belief that his clients aren't guilty of their accusations, though. Thus, his acquaintances are more likely to call him the "Illogical Attorney", rather than amoral. The only time we catch a slight wind of this is in case 6-5 "Turnabout Revolution", when he sues Apollo's client and supports his case with obviously falsified testimony, especially since the plaintiff is a Jerkass Sleazy Politician. However, at the end of the trial, we learn that he only accepted the request because Maya was kidnapped for ransom again.
      • On the other hand, a chunk of the cast of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 often imply that they think Phoenix Wright (and to a lesser extent, She-Hulk) is one. Magneto says that while he sacrifices for mutantkind, lawyers only sacrifice their dignity. Phoenix (Jean Gray) wonders what Phoenix is more hated, the world destructor or the lawyer, and before battle with Wright or She-Hulk, Ghost Rider asks them if they are aware of how many lawyers are in hell.
    • In Spirit of Justice, the population of Khura'in doesn't contain any real amoral defense attorneys... or any defense attorneys at all for that matter. It's completely ingrained into their culture to believe that any defense attorney is inherently evil and will pull any underhanded trick to get their way. As for prosecutors, there are several amoral prosecutors in Khura'in including Gaspen Payne and Nahyuta Sahdmahi. The latter isn't truly one but he had to act like one because of Queen Ga'ran.
    • Queen Ga'ran uses their power as monarch to create the Defence Culpability Act, which means that defence attorneys are given the same sentence as their clients, essentially committing genocide upon lawyers. Then when they prosecute in the final case, they go all out; they rewrite the law on the spot at points, give out penalties instead of the judge whom they outright call a figurehead, and even attempt to hand down a premature guilty verdict, and interrupts the trial by having her own sister shot on the stand, in order to buy some time. At the very end, when exposed as the true murderer, she even makes a law that lets her execute everyone against her on the spot. She's only stopped when it's proven that she is in fact, The Usurper, and all her laws are then rendered invalid.

    Web Animation 
  • Dan Mason, the protagonist of The Accuser, used to be a criminal defense attorney who didn't care if his clients were guilty or not as long as they paid for his services.
  • Ebaum's World Dot Com is a massive Take That! and Reason You Suck Song targeted at the proprietor of the titular website. It mentions that Eric has a team of Amoral Attorney prostitutes.
    He hired some male prostitutes
    And dressed them up in three piece suits
    His faithful team of lawyers made the internet his bitch
  • In Turnabout Storm, Trixie has apparently taken a page out of Franziska von Karma's book, displaying a very similar behaviour to that of the Ace Attorney prosecutor, starting off with taking a case out of personal vendetta.

    Web Comics 
  • The Partnership Collective in Schlock Mercenary are a whole race of hive-minded, snake-like, evil lawyers.
    • Massey Reinstein, the legal consultant of Tagon's Toughs, is treated more sympathetically:
      Narrator (while Massey is being tortured by the Collective): Yes, I know they ARE all lawyers. You're supposed to be rooting for the friendly human one.
  • It's Walky! has a lawyer of this nature who goes after the SEMME agency because he believes that they're reckless, irresponsible, immature, psychologically unstable, and hormonal time-bombs who cause an immense amount of destruction and death and, in some ways, do more harm than good. Although he's a slimy, unscrupulous jackass, it's kind of hard to argue with him.
  • Ubersoft's Viktor Schreck is so uncaring about who he sues that not only is the process automated, but he is perfectly willing to sue himself for the company's good (It Makes Sense in Context).[1] [2]
  • Evil Diva's mom. Well, she is a devil.
  • Played With with Homestuck's Terezi Pyrope. She wants to be a lawyer when she grows up, and since every court on Alternia is a Kangaroo Court, "There is no such thing as a defense attorney. Or a defense." On the one hand, she's a Magnificent Bastard who screws with people for fun, but on the other, she honestly cares about justice and is ultimately on the side of the good guys.
  • In Sinfest, Slick lands in Hell and demands a lawyer. To find the damned eagerly offering their services.
  • In Freefall, they actually make Sam look better by contrast.
  • Jyrras' mother in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is a lawyer and considered the most evil person in Furrae, even the demon Kria Soulstealer has an Even Evil Has Standards moment when talking to her.
  • Played with in Grrl Power. Arianna, the legal counsel for the super team, is willing to stage a bank robbery, salivates at the thought of merchandising deals, and laughs madly at public opinion bending to her will. But she's still on the side of the angels; she notes to Sydney (when she's about to sign a paper that would make Arianna her lawyer) that he's not going to produce a document that will mean she has to sue herself once it's signed, and spends most of her time finding ways to make her team look good despite their behavior. Such as when a restaurant gets destroyed in a supervillain attack.
    Reporter: Is this the future of super empowered law enforcement? Battle royales that destroy businesses and livelihoods?
    Arianna: Are you kidding? That's now the site of the first superhero battle in history! Talk about a tourist attraction! When it's rebuilt they should make it a restaurant and museum! I wonder if it's too late to buy a franchise!?
    Reporter: The spin is strong with this one.
    Suzie: She's not wrong.
    Waitress: I hope she's right, I have student loans! Could I sue the supervillains for lost wages?
    Arianna: Yes...yes you can! And I will help you!
    The Rant: Arianna is extremely excitable about certain aspects of the American legal system.
  • General Protection Fault has Mercedes de la Croix. As the inter-office feud between Fred and Trent escalates into online flame wars, they threaten to sue each other for libel and seek out the services of lawyers. Neither comes off very well, but Fred, the more sympathetic of the two hires Nicole, who eventually convinces him to drop his plans to sue Trent. Unfortunately, Trent manages to find Mercedes, who isn't just the only lawyer who believes his story about Fred being a sapient slime mold, but also is able to trick Nick into letting her into his apartment by pretending to be having car trouble. Mercedes doesn't employ any exceptionally underhanded or illegal tactics, but prosecutes the case in hopes of using it to advance her career. When Trent loses the lawsuit and ends up on trial for his attempt to kill Fred, Mercedes drops him like a hot potato, angry at him for lying to her and having some more promising opportunities.

    Web Original 
  • Kensington R. Killjoy, Esq. from the Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons online series. He counts because he's a demonic lawyer.
  • Worm has Dashing Hispanic Quinn Calle, a lawyer who specializes in defending supervillains. His main case in the story is that of a young woman who is undoubtedly guilty of hundreds of cases of assault, kidnapping, robbery, and one case of premeditated murder, the protagonist Taylor. He assists her in drawing up legal documents as part of her plan to extort the local authorities while being in their custody, and witnesses her murder two people, commenting only "I've handled worse."
    • The father of Emma Barnes, Taylor's ex-best friend and one of the Girl Posse who made Taylor's life hell, gets them completely off the hook and even rewarded for stuffing Taylor in a locker filled with used and rotting feminine hygiene products, feeding the trio's delusions that Taylor should just lay down and take the abuse and be punished if she doesn't.
  • Not actually seen in person, but Bennett the Sage has one for a lawyer who once skipped Passover to help a client screw over his ex-spouse and used his legal partner's slush fund to pay for a vacation. Bennett, who's trying to cover his ass after learning the two leads of Plastic Little are under 18, threatens to call the lawyer's grandmother and California Bar over the respective matters to force the lawyer to help him.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Van Beuren Studios Tom & Jerry short "Trouble", Tom and Jerry are running a failing lawyer business, and resort to Shameless Self-Promotion by walking right in front of a marching band.
  • Played straight, if comically, on The Simpsons. Often representing Mr. Burns is the Blue-Haired Lawyer, a pastiche of Real Life scumbag Roy Cohn. He is always competent and cold, as in this exchange following Lisa's brilliant suggestion to a TV executive (from "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochy Show" - 1997):
    George Meyers, Jr.: That's it... That's it, little girl! You just saved Itchy and Scratchy!
    Lawyer: Please sign these papers indicating that you did not save Itchy and Scratchy.
    • Note that Mr. Burns really doesn't like him, nor does he like the rest of his legal team, as proven by the way he yelled at them in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" (When he needed legal advice from them, no less.)
    • It should also be noted that the Blue-Haired Lawyer, unlike some of the examples below, seems truly amoral (not immoral) at times. He brought his usual competency to bear while representing Bart when Bart pursued legal emancipation from his family due to financial and other grievances against Homer, no matter his actual feelings about the situation: when Bart declared that he wanted to legally separate from his family in his office, his "You are?!" seems to imply he is aghast; when Bart repeats himself, however, the Blue-Haired Lawyer reveals that he understood him perfectly and was merely calling his assistant who is named "Youare" to get him the necessary forms.
    • One Halloween episodes has him writing all the legal paper to allow Mr. Burns to hunt his guests, as killing is part of Burns' religion and they are on a hunting zone. Burns shoots him the moment he is finished with the paper. It's not like he didn't see it coming the lawyer was invited purposefully to be hunted and his instinct kicked in.
    • On the other hand, the sadly now retired character Lionel Hutz is an incompetent example of this trope, often put up against the Blue-Haired Lawyer and rarely winning unless he's lucky.
    • "When will you humans learn that feelings, as you call them, can get in the way of big cash pay offs? Bwahahahaha!"—spoken by a divorce lawyer (not the Blue-Haired Lawyer) to Manjula, in the episode where she found that Apu was cheating on her.
    • "Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" (cue vision of sunshine utopia)
  • Another less-than-competent example is Kyle Broslovski's lawyer father, Gerald, who nonetheless proceeds to help Eric Cartman and a number of other South Park children bankrupt the local school system through a series of frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits, the money from which he uses to build a huge mansion for his family. Despite this, Gerald is often portrayed as a competent lawyer, even in this episode.
    • As South Park tends to do, though, the treatment of lawyers is surprisingly fair. They're in it for the money, not For the Evulz, and do have hearts - when the good guys can't scrape together the cash, South Park!Johnny Cochrane uses his Chewbacca Defense for them instead, for free.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie brought us Lickboot, Aunt Figg's lawyer sidekick. He doesn't even get to do any lawyer-ing — his profession is just there to tell us that yes, you can count on him to be as greedy as the rest of the villains. Tony Jay gives him an uncharacteristically snide, petulant voice, at least for the Villain Song. Also:
    Aunt Figg: Now stop talking! You're a lawyer — scheme!
    Lickboot: We've got to have more... MONEEEY!''
  • The Boondocks: Parodied in one episode where a white lawyer (voiced by Adam West) uses racial identity and the jury's stupidity to successfully win a case for his defendant while belittling poor Tom Dubois and his mixed-race family in front of a cheering court.
  • Gary the Rat is all about an unscrupulous lawyer who, as the name suggests, happens to be an anthropomorphic rat.
  • The Venture Bros. gives us Monstroso, a super villain lawyer, which is, as Dr. Mrs. the Monarch describes it, "Like having a shark with a grenade launcher on its head."
  • Played with in an episode of The Fairly OddParents!. After being tricked by Norm the Jerkass Genie, Timmy realizes that in order to undo the mess, he'd need someone as deceitful and untrustworthy as him...so he immediately wished for a lawyer.
    • More recently, it was revealed that Foop became a lawyer in his never ending quest to upstage Poof (he apparently got his degree while in prison).
    Foop: I knew that in order to defeat you, Poof, I needed to become something truly evil — a lawyer!
  • In an episode of Family Guy, after Peter claims he'd sell his soul for fame, the devil finds out he already sold it...twice! He asks where he can find a lawyer. Pan to see everyone in hell raise their hands.
  • For all it's deliberate caricature of the law, lawyers and litigants, * Deconstructed with Helen from Daria. She does show some signs of this (she is a defense attorney after all), but she isn't necessarily a bad person. This trope has been brought up though when Daria tried to earn some extra cash writing term papers for college students.
    Jane: What happened to all your paper-writing money?
    Daria: My mom wouldn't let me keep it. She said it was wrong to encourage cheaters and to profit from them.
    Jane: So, she's giving up being a lawyer?
    Daria: I asked her that, and I'm sure some day we'll once again be on speaking terms.
  • Lucky Luke: A great example appears in the New Adventures series where a corrupt lawyer strikes a deal with the Daltons and not only lies through his teeth to get them acquitted from the crimes they obviously committed, but he also bribes a judge to declare Luke guilty and imprison him. His lies were too good to last though... and he has to deal both with Luke's revenge plan and the Dalton's threat over his person once they don't need him anymore.
  • Biker Mice from Mars:
    • In the Clip Show episode "The Tribunal", the Biker Mice are put on trial for allegedly being needlessly excessive in their efforts to stop Limburger's evil plans. Lawrence Limburger bribes the prosecutor, named XL, so that he withholds footage that would confirm the Biker Mice's innocence.
    • One of the minor villains was a Plutarkian lawyer named Perry Provoloni.
  • Parodied in Futurama with Old Man Waterfall. He's a send-up of civil liberties lawyers, with an exaggerated zeal for defending controversial conduct. His personal life is also devoted to being as controversial as possible, being a polygamist and married to a man among other things.


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