Amazon’s ‘Goliath’ asks whether ‘David’ can ever expect to win against BigLaw

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There’s a new Amazon show coming to town and it explores the ramifications of BigLaw firms ever increasing in size and clout.
Jonathan Shapiro, Goliath’s co-creator and co-writer reflected in a Bloomberg interview just how different the law has become since he graduated from Berkeley Law in the 1990s.
Shapiro, who has worked on shows like The Practice and Boston Legal, is a former federal prosecutor and former of counsel at Kirkland & Ellis.
Goliath features Billy Bob Thornton as disgraced Los Angeles lawyer William McBride. McBride is now an ambulance chaser and gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him, the show is described.
Asked whether the show is about the cultural difference between the plaintiff and defence bars, Shapiro said it kind of is a 21st century David v. Goliath. The show “raises the question whether David can ever expect to win,” he said.
“In 2013, I was of counsel at Kirkland & Ellis, and I hadn’t been in practice in years and the law had changed so much. If you told me in 1990 when I graduated Berkeley Law, that there would be over 20 law firms with over $1 billion in revenue and law offices over the world, I would have not believed you. Because we thought we were entering a profession, not a business,” Shapiro continued.
“Law has become a corporate power unto itself … it’s become this monolithic force against the individual plaintiff,” he added.
Shapiro noted that there has been a precipitous drop in the number of cases that reach jury trials, something he believes is a bad thing.
“When I graduated, we all wanted to be Atticus Finch. Now, they all want to be corporate attorneys putting deals together,” he said.
Shapiro said that today’s Davids are facing BigLaw opponents that have the technology, deep talent and global reach over evidence that makes it almost impossible for lawyers of the smaller guys to ever win.
The size of BigLaws also pose problems, if Shapiro is asked – a timely topic given megamergers have been plenty and are still being discussed.
“The reason why we were taught to think of ourselves as a profession is because we weren’t supposed to have skin in the game or anything that would cause us to make decisions based on economic incentives,” he told Bloomberg.
Goliath will be released by Amazon on 14 October in the US. It has already garnered positive reviews from the likes of Variety.

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