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Top 10 Fierce Female TV Lawyers

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Sophie Breuleux Court is in session as we count down the fiercest female lawyers in television history! These top TV lawyers are not afraid of fighting for the truth - whether it be for the right reasons or not. We're talking about the fierce Jessica Pearson from Suits, Rhonda Perlman from The Wire, or Annalise Keating from How to Get Away With Murder. Find out if Ally McBeal, Patty Hewes from Damages, and Alicia Florrick from The Good Wife made our list for the definitive ranking of the Top 10 Female TV Lawyers. MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook►► Twitter►► Instagram►► Snapchat ►► Special thanks to our user smizetillyoumakeit for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at

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Top 10 Female TV Lawyers

They’re fierce, intelligent, and always up for a good fight. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 top ten female lawyers in television.
For this list, we’re looking at fictional female lawyers and attorneys in television, and characters in which their legal professions are the main focus of the shows in question. However, we’re excluding portrayals of real-life lawyers and those characters that happen to be lawyers but aren’t important to the plot.

#10: Jessica Pearson
“Suits” (2011-)

The TV series “Suits” follows Mike Ross, a brilliant lawyer who lacks nothing – except for any actual law credentials, that is. However, it is Jessica who runs the show at what’s now known as Pearson Specter. Sometimes an antagonist, but mostly an ally, she is the firm’s managing partner. Pearson leads the firm through its highs and lows with an iron fist, and when it comes down to it, she is very capable of getting her hands dirty and going to court herself. Jessica Pearson is not afraid of competition, and she shows everyone who thinks a woman of color does not belong at the head of a top-tier law firm exactly how wrong they are.

#9: Sally Heep
“Boston Legal” (2004-08)

First seen as a love interest to Alan Shore, one of the main characters of the legal comedy-drama, Sally Heep is also a great character of her own. And though Alan moves on to paralegal-turned-lawyer Tara Wilson following their breakup, there’s no denying that Sally makes her mark. She may start off as a lesser element of the team, especially when compared to other characters like Shirley Schmidt, but after she’s fired from the Boston offices, Heep evolves into a more confident and competent lawyer. She is not afraid to use her assets to get what she wants either, as opposed to letting herself be used. She ultimately goes beyond the weak archetype of being a token woman on television when her character goes through a metamorphosis from an insecure junior into a confident woman.

#8: Christine Sullivan
“Night Court” (1984-1992)

The legal situation comedy follows the eccentric workers of a Manhattan municipal court. Promoted to series regular by the third season, public defender Christine Sullivan offered the show more than a few laughs. She offered a great many laughs. We probably won’t remember those who she defended over the years, but we’ll always remember the banter between her and the lecherous prosecutor Dan Fielding. Meanwhile, her obsession with Princess Diana and her relationship with judge and magician Harold T. "Harry" Stone also helps cement her in our memories.

#7: Rhonda Pearlman
“The Wire” (2002-08)

The HBO American crime drama wouldn’t be the same without its legal system liaison Rhonda Pearlman. The Assistant State’s Attorney acts as such for most of Lieutenant Cedric Daniels’ investigations, and retains the moral high ground throughout most of the show. She seeks justice, while remaining an ambitious lawyer and playing the political game. Though she sometimes strays from her principles, she always manages to find her way. Her struggles to achieve both justice and the advancement of her career are why her character has such an interesting plotline to follow.

#6: Ally McBeal
“Ally McBeal” (1997-2002)

“Ally McBeal” is known for its titular character’s professional and personal struggles, throwing dancing babies and unisex toilets into the mix. Ally McBeal is a highly unique character, as proven by her randomly bursting into dance and having hallucinations, but that’s what makes her a cultural icon. Amid winning cases, she gets into catfights, she dates a character played by Bon Jovi, and she doesn’t really care about what is socially acceptable. She is not as focused on her career as, let’s say, Ling Woo, but she still one of the most passionate lawyers on the show.

#5: Sarah MacKenzie
“JAG” (1995-2005)

JAG, the US military acronym for Judge Advocate General, is a legal drama following judge advocates - in other words, lawyers in the Navy. First a Major, then promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie had a rough start in life. As a child, she was abused by her father, which led her to become an alcoholic. She joined the Marines after cleaning up her act, where they gave her the opportunity to study law. Mac’s past allows her to see through the greyer areas of life, which differentiates her from the clichéd pure and always-right lawyers, and also lands her on our list.

#4: Annalise Keating
“How to Get Away with Murder” (2014-)

The main character of this legal drama mystery is Annalise Keating, a passionate and charismatic defense attorney and criminal law professor. She has her own practice, for which she only recruits the best of her students every year, which makes these very coveted positions. When it comes to her private life, the troubles she had trying to have children with her husband created friction between them, and sparked infidelity on both ends. But she still keeps a strong front, and effectively hides her emotional trauma from most people. Despite being involved in, well, murder, she remains fierce and an inspiration to her students and law enthusiasts.

#3: Claire Kincaid
“Law & Order” (1990-2010)

It cannot be said that the popular police procedural and legal drama had a shortage of great female lawyers, like Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, but Claire Kincaid still stands out the most. The young Assistant District Attorney was unapologetically liberal, strongly anti-death penalty and came out as a feminist, agnostic and pro-choice. Even if she was portrayed as being a bit deluded with her profession, or maybe too idealistic when compared to other strongly ethical characters like Alexandra Cabot on the spinoff “SVU”, it was still good to see someone challenge the legal system. Despite going against the patriarchal dogma as seen so often in the practice of law, Kincaid was an exceptional and unforgettable ADA.

#2: Patty Hewes
“Damages” (2007-12)

While a legal-thriller, the show often focuses on the relationship between Ellen, an ambitious young lawyer, and Patty Hewes, her boss, mentor, and sometimes mother figure. Patty Hewes is a ruthless lawyer dedicated to taking down power-abusing bullies, but she could arguably be called a bully herself. She has done some despicable things, some of them to the people closest to her, but she is still the best at what she does. She is not always, or even usually, a good person, but she is a good lawyer, and isn’t that the bottom-line? At least for this list, it is.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Laurel Lance / Black Canary
“Arrow“ (2012-)

Jane Bingum
“Drop Dead Diva” (2009-14)

Kim Wexler
“Better Call Saul” (2015-)

Sylvia Costas
“NYPD Blue” (1993-2005)

Jeri Hogarth
“Jessica Jones” (2015-)

#1: Alicia Florrick
“The Good Wife” (2009-16)

When her husband gets caught up in a sex and corruption scandal, it falls to Alicia Florrick to support her family. To keep things afloat, she goes back to practicing law, which is something she had not done for over ten years. At her new firm, she is older than most of her co-workers and criticised for choosing to be a housewife over practicing law. However she manages to shut down her detractors by becoming one of the firm’s best lawyers, while also managing to keep her family together. She embodies the resilience and intelligence needed to be a good lawyer, no matter what sex you are, and that’s what makes her character so compelling and our top pick.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think is the best female lawyer on TV? For more incredible Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

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