Follow TV Tropes


Series / Harry's Law

Go To

A Law Procedural starring Kathy Bates by David E. Kelley.

Harriet Korn is tired. Being one of the best patent lawyers in Cincinnati gets a little boring after a while. As soon as she mentions this to her superiors, though, she quickly finds herself out of a job.

All well and good for Harry, who promptly clears out her desk and starts to move on...only to have someone literally drop out of the sky on top of her. Malcolm, a troubled teen trying to kill himself because he's facing drug charges, then pleads with Harry to take his case, since he feels their unique meeting was fate. Despite her better judgment, she ends up helping him and finds she actually likes being a criminal attorney. After the day is won, Harry decides to open a law firm in one of Cincinnati's worst neighborhoods in order to help the underprivileged people that big lawyers tend to pass over.

Oh, she also gets hit by a car, not that it matters much.

Harry's Law provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: In the first season finale, Josh Peyton (played by Paul McCrane) sings the song "Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?" at a lawyer gala. The song was written and performed by McCrane originally in Fame.
  • Attempted Rape: Chunhua is a victim of this.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Subverted. Harry couldn't understand the gang members very well during the talks.
    Harry: Look, I don't speak Legalese to you, so don't speak Gangsterese to me.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Recurring character Tommy Jefferson is a spotlight-hogging Large Ham literal example of this trope, probably thanks in part to Christopher McDonald playing him.
  • Common Nonsense Jury: Harry gets a client — a woman who committed armed robbery — off with a defense that amounted to "She did it, but she's old so we should feel sorry for her."
  • Creepy Uncle: Jenna had an "encounter" with her, as she put it, "quote, 'friendly uncle', unquote." She never quite got over it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Seems to be a requirement to work at Harriet's Law & Fine Shoes.
  • Disregard That Statement: Harry lives for this trope. Subverted in that it actually does almost get her disbarred.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Tommy's case in "And The Band Plays On". He keeps suggesting the client to drop the case because he allowed it to happen. The client point blatantly asks him if he would be saying the same thing if the genders were reversed.
  • Driven to Suicide: A girl is charged with murder for doing this to another girl in "Queen of Snark". The girl killed herself because of things the defendant wrote on her blog. The defendant is ultimately acquitted because the jury doesn't consider her actions to be the direct cause of the victim's death. In Layman's Terms, killing herself was ultimately the victim's choice, so the defendant isn't criminally responsible.
  • Expy:
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Jenna (sanguine), Harry (choleric), Adam (melancholic), and Malcolm (phlegmatic).
  • Gangbangers: More than a few, but Damien is the most prevalent, being a recurring character.
  • Genki Girl: Jenna.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Cassie Reynolds, Phoebe Blake and if paralegals count, Chunhua and Lisa. And Oliver Richard for the ladies.
  • Hidden Depths: This show loves this trope.
    • Despite Tommy's brash nature, he actually used to be really nervous in court. The only reason he acts the way he does now is to get people (namely jurors) to like him.
    • Damien seems like a thug at first, but he really just wants to protect people.
    • Jenna acts like a bubbly ditz because that was how she dealt with being molested, and now she feels a responsibility to everyone to keep it up even when it's driving her nuts.
    • Rachael seems like a controlling ex at first, but her actions turn out to be out of love and concern and intimacy.
    • Puck is actually a caring and sensitive, very sad person just trying to do right in the world.
    • Even the street gang stepped up to the plate to offer organ donations for the ex-gang member.
  • Inherent in the System: The entire point of the series seems to be to shine a light on everything that's broken in American society, though there is a clear liberal viewpoint/bias being expressed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Harry, Tommy, and Damien.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Harry.
  • Knight Templar:
    • DA Josh Peyton is a non-evil example. Always goes for the maximum penalty, seems to totally scorn plea bargaining, and doesn't seem to know the meaning of the terms "extenuating circumstances" or "reasonable doubt".
    • Damien is a non-evil example, too. Sure, he almost beats a guy to death, but said guy did rape someone.
  • Large Ham: Tom— Ahem, excuse me. TOMMY JEFFERSON.
  • Le Parkour: Malcolm initially attempts to pass off his suicide attempt as this.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Jenna.
  • The Nicknamer: Damien. Names so far: Sweets for Jenna, Slick for Adam, and Old Lady for Harry.
  • Noisy Shut-Up: Harry memorably pulls this off with an airhorn while mediating a sit-down between two gangs. It works so well that, later in the meeting, merely reaching for the airhorn is enough to shut them up.
  • Once an Episode: Jenna storming into storage, and slamming the door (sometimes twice or more!).
  • Only Sane Employee:
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Harry is the legal equivalent. As a patent lawyer she is in a very specialized subfield of law (which barely exists in Cincinnati) that requires a technical degree to practice as well as a law degree. Furthermore, it's so specialized that basic skills in criminal law are non-existent. It's one thing to go to doing civil suits for the poor, it's another to suddenly start doing criminal law after an entire career of civil cases that average 5 years on each...
  • Peace Conference: Harry decides she's going to act as a mediator between two local gangs. Thanks to her Jerkass front, they do manage to agree on one thing: she sucks as a mediator.
  • Penultimate Outburst: Harry has to get on a soapbox about something at least once per episode.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Christopher McDonald (season 2).
  • Put on a Bus: Jenna and Malcolm. Given the new direction of the show, they are likely on a Long Bus Trip.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Harry.
  • Retool: Mostly, the "street level" approach was jettisoned when Season 2 began, and it went from helping the people the big lawyers pass over to being more of a standard law show. Much of the Season 1 cast goes away, with the standard-law-show type characters who were their nemeses becoming the supporting cast (yes, Tommy Jefferson was a "bad guy" at first) and the shoe store is traded for a big pretty office. Seasons 1 and 2 may as well be two different shows.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: One case involves a woman suing the fast food industry for making her fat. A similar case was brought before a court in recent memory when the episode first aired. Of course Harry refuses the case as it's simply frivolous, but Glory Hound Tommy Jefferson takes the case because he doesn't care about the client or the case, only that he is well known. Tommy then develops sympathy for the woman and ends up winning the crucial part of the suit not by his typical theatrics, but by good old-fashioned legal ass-kicking (because he cared enough to come Crazy-Prepared).
  • Stepford Smiler: Jenna, in a way. When she had an encounter with her Creepy Uncle, she retreated into a fantasy world where everything was happy and perfect. She never really came out.
  • Tomboyish Name: Harriet is mostly called Harry.
  • Widow Mistreatment: Harry had a client whose wife was murdered and the police never found the killer. There was no evidence that he did it, no one in his life or his wife's family suspected him, and in fact the police didn't consider him a suspect, just a person of interest (which basically means the investigators were aware of his existence). But, because the world is filled with people who are too stupid to understand the difference between a person of interest and a suspect, his life was ruined because the "person of interest" label made it impossible for him to get a job or a loan.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Where Harry's new firm is set up.