Lawyers and Reality TV Were Made For Each Other

By Brian Kumnick on May 12, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Do lawyers make particularly good reality-show contestants? (Corollary question: can you make a good reality show about lawyers? Answer: do you remember David E. Kelley's The Law Firm? Didn't think so.)

Perhaps the stereotypical lawyer skill set -- analysis, negotiation, perfectionism, competitiveness -- is the right recipe for game-show success. On the other hand, like other desk drones, lawyers aren't always models of physical strength and fitness. With that to think about, consider three recent examples:

Attorney siblings Victor and Tammy Jih recently won this season's (fourteenth!) installment of The Amazing Race on CBS. Victor Jih is a partner at O'Melveny & Myers, while Tammy Jih is a Quinn Emmanuel associate. The duo outlasted ten other teams to take the big prize. (Schadenfreude bonus for associates in BigLaw hell: check out this video clip of Victor, the BigLaw partner, fighting off tears after nearly costing the team the race in the third episode.)
Over in the cable realm, Chicago immigration attorney Carolyn Yamazaki (firm bio; show bio) can currently be found on Discovery's Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment. She will be helping us figure out whether associate life is tougher than being dropped into the Alaskan wilderness with eight near-strangers and no food and told to hike your way out.

The competitive angle has been downplayed here, with no one "winner" being declared, and no forced winnowing of contestants. Instead, participants in the month-long "experiment" were given GPS beacons to signal for a rescue if they couldn't go on. And with four of eight episodes now having aired, Yamazaki is among the five who have not yet tapped out.

Finally, we must mention this would-have-been home run of reality programming: everyone, it seemed, wanted to see prosecutor-turned-corrupt-governor Rod Blagojevich negotiate the Costa Rican jungle in the next season of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Sadly, we were denied this pleasure by a district court's refusal to modify Blagojevich's bail agreement. Something about a flight risk. It's a shame, of course. It could have been a real win-win: Blagojevich stood to make a little money to fund his legal defense, and the world could have watched a truly motivated attorney at work.
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