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I'm just a humble country lawyer trying to do the best I can against this brilliant prosecutor from the big city of Lansing.
Paul Biegler, Anatomy of a Murder

The legal counsel who starts off his closing argument with "now, I may not have studied at Harvard..." and then tries to win the jury over with an appeal to emotion. Bonus points if he's Southern.

Something of a Dead Horse Trope nowadays, although it still gets Played Straight occasionally. Deconstructions may have the lawyer display Obfuscating Stupidity or using a Chewbacca Defense. Parodic examples will usually be a Shout-Out to either Jimmy Stewart, Atticus Finch, or Matlock.

Not to be confused with The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

Examples of Simple Country Lawyer include:


  • The Ur Example is the film Anatomy of a Murder, in which Jimmy Stewart plays Paul Biegler, a lawyer from the fairly backwoods Upper Peninsula of Michigan, defending a man in a murder trial. Along with the local D.A., an Assistant Attorney General from the state capital of Lansing has been brought in to prosecute, and Biegler gets a fair amount of mileage out of displaying himself as David facing off against the massive Goliath of the state government, culminating in the page quote. Of course, since he's from the U.P., and so's the jury, while the prosecutor and even the judge aren't, he's really playing it up for them.
  • Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate.
  • Jim Trotter III from My Cousin Vinny.
    • An inversion, as the "Simple Country Lawyer" has more education than the Big City Lawyer (Vinny).
  • Dustin Hoffman plays the Simple Country Lawyer in Runaway Jury, going against the jury-rigger played by Gene Hackman.
  • This was the entire premise of the series Matlock.
  • Futurama has a humanoid chicken who calls himself "just a simple hyperchicken from a backwoods asteroid". According to a deleted scene from Into The Wild Green Yonder, said chicken's name is "Matcluck".
    • Despite his trial for incompetence, he holds an on-screen perfect record of 2 successful defenses and 2 successful prosecutions. And he managed to negotiate a sweet deal for Bender while under arrest himself, "awaitin' trial for that there incompetence." in "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz". One of those insanity defenses was just saying "well for starters, they hired me as their lawyer".
    • One-shot character Oldman Waterfall (of the recurring Waterfall family) makes the above chicken look like a regular city slicker in comparison. Despite this, he was very socially liberal (and in a way that was positively portrayed, unlike the rest of his Strawman Political family). He also argued for the validity of bisexual polygamist marriage. (YAAAAAAAAYYYYY) ...and Satanic funerals. (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
      • The people actually booed his polygamy and cheered his request for a satanic funeral.
    • The episode "A Clockwork Origin" has Bender attempt to invoke this trope while defending the Professor on charges of claiming Creationism to the species of robots who he caused to evolve (It Makes Sense in Context). The prosecution objects to Bender wearing redundant suspendors when he has no pants.
  • Cirroc (played by Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live) might have been The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, but his legal arguments are sterling examples of this tactic.
  • Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons occasionally slipped into this. He, too, was played by Phil Hartman.

 Homer: Did you, or did you not use a senior citizens' discount card at said car wash?

Ned Well, I did, but...

Homer: Now I'm not a fancy big city lawyer... [Congregation gasps] ...but it seems to me that a senior citizen has to be over 55. Isn't that so?

Ned: Well, yes...

Homer: And you are how old?

Ned: [sighs] I suppose if you must know, I'm... well, I... I'm 60.

 Stu: Juries smile at me, cause I'm the old, dumb country lawyer who just talks plain sense.

  Now, I'm no lawyer...

  • I Love You, Phillip Morris has a court scene that plays into this trope to the hilt - when the real lawyer accuses the sham of treating the proceedings "like an episode of Matlock," he launches into the "plain-spoken man" speech. The judge's reaction? "Good point."
  • In an interesting Real Life example, a Southern politician's accent will actually get stronger as s/he climbs higher and higher in office, and their appeals to folsky wisdom will increase across the board, lest they be seen as a D.C. east coast elitist. Of course, the fact that most of these politicians went to Ivy League schools and have spent most of their careers in D.C. has nothing to do with the "elitist" label: it's only applied if they sound sufficiently Yankee.
  • In real life, megalawyer Gerry Spence made a career out of playing to this trope. His autobiography was even titled The Making of a Country Lawyer. And he was damn good at it, too: at the time of his retirement in 2008, he had not lost a jury trial in 39 years, and had never lost a criminal trial, period.
  • Surprisingly, the great Roman orator, lawyer and politician Cicero fills this trope quite well. Whereas most of the senators, magistrates and lawyers in Ancient Rome were more or less patrician (not necessarily with money though), Cicero was an eques (well-off, but hardly rich) and from Arpinium--a town in southern Latium which had been conquered, assimilated, and granted (plebeian) citizenship by the Romans over the course of the 200 years before Cicero's birth. He played on this fact both implicitly and explicitly in many of his major speeches appealing to the Nouveau Riche, such as in the In Verrem speeches. This makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • This Real Life lawyer tries to invoke the trope but ultimately loses his case.
  • Sam Ervin, a U.S. Senator from North Carolina who became nationally famous as head of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, was fond of referring to himself as one of these.
  • Tim Pawlenty, Presidential candidate and governor of Minnesota, was caught faking a Southern accent. Again, he's the governor of Minnesota, which borders Canada.
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