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Law Review: The Definitive Ranking of ‘Good Wife’ Attorneys

CBS
CBS

Ashes to ashes, slap to slap: After seven seasons of legal intrigue, killer necklaces, offscreen hatred, antagonistic ChumHum, Alan Cumming’s expressive eyes, and copious amounts of wine (and tequila!), CBS’s beloved drama The Good Wife came to an end Sunday night. And while the final two seasons never stood up to the often-brilliant five that preceded them, the show’s blend of wry humor, ripped-from-the-TechCrunch plot points, female empowerment, and smart writing made it one of the great network dramas that — in my opinion — will be missed the way Alicia Florrick misses that poor ol’ classmate of hers.

Through the years, The Good Wife has been praised for its use of guest stars; the show was to recognizable character actors what Law & Order is to random unknowns. While some appeared as clients or judges or fruit lobbyists or mouthy moms, many of the most memorable performances came from the lawyers. Between those recurring roles and the series regulars, there was no shortage of weird and wonderful litigators on display, and plenty of time to think about who you’d want representing you in a jam.

From worst to first, your honor:

Howard Lyman: You’re better off just stealing his letterhead while he’s unbuckling his belt for a nap.

Will Gardner: Such a great lawyer, but unfortunately he’s not taking on any new cases these days. Unless you’re tripping balls. (And here I thought Alicia Florrick’s only vice was booze!)

Lucca Quinn: Thinly written plot devices are too unpredictable in a court of law.

Cary Agos: Most likely to rack up billable hours while zoning out in front of tropical-island screen savers. But here’s the real question: Who should represent Matt Czuchry when he sues The Good Wife writers over his final-season arc?

Martha Reed and Caitlin D’arcy: Being passed over for someone else is a powerful motivator! These two should team up.

Diane Lockhart: A fine lawyer and finer dresser, but watch out: Between her troubled marriage and her penchant for constantly rejiggering law firms, she might be a tad preoccupied. That lipstick, tho.

Patti Nyholm: Our favorite strident mama is specifically who you’d want on your side if you’re in a legal battle against Donald Trump: After all, we’ve seen how the mere suggestion of breastfeeding causes him to melt down. Hire her alongside Andrew Wiley, Daddy P.I., for the ultimate in baby carriers and crushed Cheerios in the courtroom.

Nancy Crozier: The Ringer heartily endorses this infuriating ringer.

Alicia Florrick: PROS: No bullshit … a smart and nimble legal mind … thinks outside the box … the choice of creepy alleged murderers everywhere! CONS: The judges hate her husband … her offices always turn to a shambles … there’s no way the bored Chicago tabloids wouldn’t be all over every move she makes, despite the show’s insistence otherwise … she’s apt to start lolling around.

Charles Lester: For when you just need things taken care of.

David Lee: As Robert Frost once wrote, good assholes make good lawyers. Hire this man before your soon-to-be-ex does, sit back, and suck on some M&M’s.

Louis Canning: You don’t get a manse like that without some serious skills. Ruthless, manipulative, and charming, Canning and the leveraging of his disability was one of the show’s best ongoing plots. Also, was anyone else hoping that Alicia would walk into the kitchen in the finale and find him there, fumbling with the wine?

Elsbeth Tascioni: A Vera Bradley–toting, clown-hallucinating, Fitbit-wearing powerhouse. A lawyer’s lawyer; a ginger. Kind of a latter-day legal-eagle version of Melisandre, when you really think about it. Let’s start talking spinoff, please.

This piece originally appeared in the May 9, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.