The University of Drydock has merged its law and drama schools into one.
The reason, said President Himmerling, is that the law is becoming more theatrical, and television is becoming more legalistic.
“I want our law students to become good actors and our student actors to act more like lawyers.”
He took me to an acting class for people studying law. Professor Dumphrey was teaching the course. We sat at the back to see what was going on.
Dumphrey said, “OK, in this scene you are taking your client into court. He is being charged with murdering his tax accountant. Outside the court are dozens of members of the media, some with TV cameras, others with still cameras, and more with recording machines. What is the first thing you do?”
A student on stage said, “Smile.”
“Right,” said the professor. “Above all do not let your client speak. Use the third person. Now read your line.”
“This trial is an injustice to our client, Georgie the Monkfish. The government has accused an innocent man, and a jury of 12 good people will have no choice but to free him so he can tend to his apple trees in the country.”
“That was a little long. Now you students over there will play the press. Start shooting questions at the lawyer.”
“How much are you getting paid to say that?” a student yelled.
“What was the knife doing in Georgie’s hand when he came out of the bar where Charlie the accountant was watching a Knicks game on the TV?”
The lawyer responded, “Except for stating the fact that my client is innocent and a victim of a corrupt justice system, I am under a gag order not to talk about the case.”
The professor said, “Now the verdict is in. The client is found guilty and will die in the electric chair. The lawyer comes out on the steps.”
One of the student reporters asked, “Are you going to appeal?”
“I would, except that I’ve just signed a contract with Court TV.”