Survey Says People Want Jack McCoy as Their Lawyer


“I’m not a lawyer but I play one on TV.”

If you had your choice, which TV lawyer would you want representing you? The stalwart Perry Mason, the suave Arnie Becker, the scattered Ally McBeal?

In Avvo’s November survey of 10,000 consumers on their attitudes and perceptions about lawyers, Law & Order’s Jack McCoy came out on top, garnering 17% of the votes. Little wonder: respondents said they wanted their lawyers to be confident, realistic, and aggressive. Jack McCoy is all three.

Coming in a close second and third: The Good Wife’s unflappable Alicia Florrick, with 14%, and Scandal’s tenacious Olivia Pope, with 10%. Sorry, Matlock, there’s no love for you here in the top three.

But is it possible to find a lawyer like Jack McCoy in real life? TV watchers generally believe that legal dramas portray lawyers accurately, or somewhat accurately. Sixty-five percent of people who watch legal dramas on TV think so, as do 60% of people who watch reality TV. Only 49% of the general population thinks that lawyers are accurately portrayed. Maybe they’ll change their minds after a few Law & Order marathons on TNT.

What's in a Lawyer?
What’s in a Lawyer?

Have you heard the one about the lawyer?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. How do you know when a lawyer is lying? His lips move. Ha!

But seriously, folks. Lawyer jokes are a dime a dozen, and they play on the idea that lawyers are dishonest and unscrupulous. Fortunately, that’s not an idea that the majority of our survey’s respondents agree with. Only 17% used words like dishonest, cheater, and shark to describe lawyers. Nearly twice as many of those surveyed – 33% to be exact – used positive words to describe lawyers, like help, smart, and defender.

Over a fifth of respondents gave words like money and expensive. The financial aspect of hiring an attorney is not a small concern. Our survey also found that the cost of hiring a lawyer is a factor for 5 in 10 men and for 7 in 10 women.

Another factor when hiring a lawyer? Looks. An attorney’s appearance is a “very important” factor for 35% of women and a “somewhat important” factor for 50% of men. It also seems that as age goes up, importance of looks goes down. People aged 18-24 in the survey found looks more important than people aged 35-44.

Comparison shopping for an attorney…?

We also asked the people in our survey about their own experiences hiring and working with lawyers. Seventy percent had hired a lawyer in the past five years, and a further 14% had hired one more than five years ago.

In this day and age where social media is king, people were split nearly 50-50 on whether a lawyer’s Facebook and Twitter content would be a factor in hiring them. But respondents were more favorable to the idea of writing online reviews of their lawyers: 75% said no problem, while only 7% felt that it would be “inappropriate.”

After all, it seems that every profession is reviewed online these days, from plumbers to doctors to hair stylists. Why not attorneys? Check out the Avvo infographic above to see how people really feel about attorneys.