On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: Law School and Writing Legal Dramas for Television

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Sandy Gallant-Jones speaks with former federal prosecutor, producer, and author Jonathan Shapiro about his work writing legal dramas for television. Jonathan gives a brief synopsis of his legal background as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and talks about the path that led him to become of counsel at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. He reminisces about his early career, meeting his wife, Betsy Borns, and selling his first script to writer and producer David E. Kelley. The work of writers, he says, is to use their experience to create new material, and he discusses how this relates to his new book, “Deadly Force,” and his current show, “Goliath.” Jonathan closes the interview with an analysis of the high numbers of alcohol abuse among attorneys and his suggestions on how law schools can better teach students to form cogent persuasive arguments and revitalize the nobility and idealism of the legal profession.

Jonathan Shapiro has spent the last 16 years writing and producing some of television’s most iconic shows, including “The Blacklist,” “The Practice,” “Life” and “Boston Legal.” He has won an Emmy, Peabody, and Humanitas Award and also authored “Liars, Lawyers, and the Art of Storytelling” (ABA Publishing) and the novel “Deadly Force” (Ankerwycke Press). Prior to writing for television, Jonathan spent a decade as a federal prosecutor and as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School and the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He is a member and the former chairman of the California Commission on Government Economy and Efficiency, as well as the founder and director of the Public Counsel Emergency for Torture Victims. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oriel College, and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.