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This podcast focuses on the legal issues we spot in the episodes. Some of them may be obvious, some may be ignored, but not by us. Whether it is simple assault, kidnapping, property damages, corporate espionage, or even murder, we’re here to call it out and discuss what the law should do about it.
We’ll also take our unique experiences in working in the legal industry to talk about the dynamics of what it takes to run a law firm with such specialized and unique clients.
So strap into your hoverjet and sit back as we launch the SuperHuman Law Division Podcast.
Follow on Twitter at @superhumanpod
Greg Lambert 0:19
So imagine running a superhuman law division of a law firm. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do here. As we start going over the series, she hooked Attorney at Law now on Disney plus, first, let’s
Joshua Lenon 0:33
introduce ourselves and claim why we decided to begin this journey by looking at the legal issues in comics, TV, movies and pop culture.
Greg Lambert 0:40
So Joshua, we’ll start off with you can you give us a little bit of background on yourself and what inspired you to want to start this podcast with me?
Joshua Lenon 0:48
I’m Joshua Lenon. I’m CLIO’s Lawyer in Residence. I’m an attorney admitted into New York and I’m a certified privacy professional. My job title Lawyer in Residence is a made up title to encompass the jack of all trades role that I inhabit at an amazing legal technology company. My day to day includes researching Privacy and Technology law, the current and future impact of technology on lawyers and the practice of law, and swooping in to cause problems for well-meaning software developers who just want to code, dammit. The great thing about this role is it really gives me the opportunity to get to know lawyers and the things that are important to lawyers. And that includes our portrayal in the media.
Greg Lambert 1:33
So I’ll take this time. Hi, everyone. I’m Greg Lambert, and my day job is the Chief Knowledge Services Officer at a 450 plus attorney law firm in Texas. And that title is fancy for being the person who oversees the library and research teams for the firm, as well as looking over the client, matter, and lateral conflicts processes here. I’m going to use my experiences in both of these roles to take a look at how a SuperHuman Law practice area would need to prepare for the issues as well as exactly what kind of clients can a firm take on without actually causing any practical issues with representing your other clients or those clients who you want to bring in? My other podcast is The Geek in Review podcast that I co-host with Marlene Gebauer.
Joshua Lenon 2:30
That’s a phenomenal podcast. I recommend everybody check it out.
Greg Lambert 2:33
Thanks, Joshua. So we’re going to start off with talking shop about the MCU Disney plus TV series. She-Hulk Attorney at Law. So Joshua, what do you know about She-Hulk Prior to this new TV show?
Joshua Lenon 2:48
So I was comics collector when I was younger. And as a teen I did gravitate towards the Marvel Comics universe. And so anybody who grew up in the 90s knew about the X-Men, and the huge bust in boom cycle of comics at that time. And so I was familiar with she held through a lot of their crossover events that comics have people who watch the movies now will know that you have kind of the superhero movie on their own, like the IronMan movie or the Captain America movie. And then you’ll have the Avengers movies where they all get together. And comic books are very much like that as well only on an even grander scale. Because you can just pack every person onto a page, so long as you don’t care about the poor artists that draws them. And so I was familiar with She Hulk as a character all the way back then, but really became invested in her as a character in a run done by Dan Slott in 2004. And the original run was called A Single Green Female, if I remember correctly, which was actually a riff on the Ally McBeal show that had swept pop culture. So you had single female lawyer, and here we’ve got single green female lawyer for her. And what was important about this run and interest me was it looked at how being a lawyer impacted the type of super heroine that She-Hulk did, and vice versa, how being a superhero impacted her legal career. And I found that juxtaposition to be just incredibly fascinating. And I really enjoyed it. It made me look forward to this TV series that we’re now seeing when it was announced. I’m like, Oh, I really hope they focus on some of those stories as well. How about you, Dan, how did you become familiar? I did it again. I called you Dan.
Greg Lambert 4:51
Joshua Lenon 4:51
How about you, Greg. What made you interested in She-Hulk?
Greg Lambert 4:56
Well Dan Slott’s a very powerful writers. So I’m glad you got us confused.
Joshua Lenon 5:00
Greg Lambert 5:02
Yes. I actually collected, She-Hulk, the very original 25 comic book run that came out, I believe, I think it actually came out in late 1979 or early 1980. And so I was like 11 at the time. And, you know, I actually still have that run and one of my long storage boxes in my room somewhere, but I really kind of dropped out of collecting comics after I became kind of a late teenager, I joined the Army and moved off and it really wasn’t room or money to collect comic books at that time. But that whole run there was pretty amazing. There was a John Byrne run that came just a few years later. And that’s the one where she breaks the fourth wall in the comic books itself. So long before Deadpool was out there. She was breaking the fourth wall in comics, and that was kind of a John Byrne thing.
Joshua Lenon 6:00
It was really unconventional run at the time, right?
Greg Lambert 6:03
Yeah, yeah. And Byrne is such a great, he was such a great influence at that time, because he’s the one that did the Uncanny X Men, he did Superman. He kind of revived the Fantastic Four. And then he took a shot at She Hulk. And it was a really fun run. Just like you, it was more that Dan Slott run where she became a lawyer. That was the focus. I believe she pretty much maintained her. She-Hulk character, most of the time not wanting to get back into the gin Walters persona, because she could party. And I think we’ll kind of touch on this later, that that became kind of an issue with her practicing law and partying at the same time, which, you know, unfortunately, a lot of lawyers find out throughout their career at some point.
Joshua Lenon 6:55
Yeah, it’s tough to divorce the professional and the personal for a lawyer, maybe not for the lawyer themselves, but in the people’s perceptions of the lawyer. Yeah, it’s something you got to watch for.
Greg Lambert 7:05
Yeah. That whole run there as I was, as I was kind of refining comic books over the past couple of years, that really just intrigued me with all of the legal issues that they dealt with that they were dealing with a, you know, a large multi attorney law firm. It was just fascinating, having been on the operation side of law firms for so many years to see the fact that they had a library that it was made up of mostly comic books. But they you know, they had a law library, you know, and there was a number of legal issues that they touched on, which I hope they kind of bring in some of those into the TV series. But there’s always these legal issues that go on in pop culture and comics and movies, that as somebody who deals with it in the real world, you see things like, well, who’s going to pay for all this damage that you know Thor did by throwing his hammer in midtown Manhattan and taking down you know, an entire floor of a building out? So I mean, it’s just things like that just nerdy things sticking in my head, and I’m sure they do yours as well.
Joshua Lenon 8:12
100% do and Well, I think that’s actually somewhat interesting. He’s many times you can’t divorce the law from comics, either. It’s something that’s been explored within the pages themselves, or the history of comics are just filled with a whole host of legal issues. Trials, backstabbing, depending on your point of view, within those trials and the contracts around them. So we, as lawyers, oftentimes, maybe get a little bit more out of comics than I think a lot of people who enjoy just a good fight scene, right? In an action movie, we oftentimes are seeing, like the issues that are either leading to how the story is being portrayed, or what’s available to be on the screen itself. All of these things happen because of the law. And so being a lawyer interacting with comics is actually a really fun hobby.
Greg Lambert 9:13
And then even in real life, comic books just kind of spur their own legal issues. Because you are talking about intellectual property, you’re talking about, you know, millions of dollars of content, billions of dollars of content in some cases, and you have historical legal issues where, for example, you know, Jack Kirby’s issue with Stan Lee, and whether or not Jack Kirby, who created all of the drawings of all of these amazing characters, and co-created all of these, but then was ruled to be a work for hire under intellectual property laws. So he had no rights to these things that he had essentially created. And so I know there’s a you know, there’s a whole number of issues that Bill Finger with Batman having some similar problems on that. And so it’s you know, you can’t divorce real life from fiction it seems.
Joshua Lenon 10:11
100% Even in what we have today, right? audience might not know this, but I live in Canada. And so the access I have to content is different than what you have based on just the licensing and distribution agreements related to these studios and what they produce. And we’ve even seen that impact like big blockbuster pictures like The Avengers themselves, where Spider Man was originally licensed to Fox Studios, a long, long time ago. And so the fact that you had Spider Man, now appearing alongside the Avengers, who were now owned by Disney, right was this huge contract negotiation and potential lawsuit nightmare, just to have a guy who jumps between buildings and swings on webs appear in a movie has just massive, massive legal spend around it, we’re still seeing that everywhere,
Greg Lambert 11:14
Brings up the bankruptcy issues from the 90s when Marvel filed for bankruptcy and split, the X Men slash mutants went to Fox, Spider-Man went to and maybe Fantastic Four went to Sony and, and then Disney got basically the superhero batch as well. So we are seeing that kind of tighten up a little bit and seeing more of the crossover in that. But again, that was nearly you know, 25 years ago that all of these deals were cut.
Joshua Lenon 11:48
Yeah, bankruptcy, contract law, all of these things impacting how these media empires have been built and run since. It’s tough to believe, but the Avengers characters were not considered the high value property for Marvel in the 90s. And so when Marvel Studios said we’re going to do The Avengers, I was like, Really? that’s it, that’s what you’re gonna build your cinematic universe on? And now it’s this bedrock of pop culture. But in the 90s, everybody thought it was going to be X Men, everybody thought it was gonna be Fantastic Four they sold those rights off, because they were desperate. And years later, now, Disney is bought Marvel. Marvel has created the Avengers and Disney has now bought Fox licensed out a lot of Sony’s properties. The law impacts all of these things. And so behind the scenes, just it’s very fascinating for lawyers.
Greg Lambert 12:44
Yeah, it’s crazy.
Joshua Lenon 12:46
But let’s pull it now to their latest creation, She Hulk
Greg Lambert 12:49
Joshua, it’s nice with you being in Canada and me being in the US that they actually allow this to be released on the same day so that we don’t have to wait for one of us to see it when the other hasn’t had a chance. So what are your thoughts on the first episode?
Joshua Lenon 13:05
I enjoyed it. So I think it hit the ground running, which was great. It pulled, I think a lot of the source material, or at least it’s set up that it’s going to pull a lot of the source material that you and I both like from the Slott run, where being a lawyer is a part of Jennifer’s story, not just a job title that gets tossed in the background, as we then have adventures in outer space or something. All right. I do think the first episode was obviously a lot of kind of origin story background stuff. But interestingly, it doesn’t like the whole series is going to be an origin story. We got a lot of that out of the way and now it’s still going to be young, young-ish superhero career. But that’s going to be balanced out by what could be a young-ish lawyer career, I think it’s gonna be a very engaging story. What did you think of the first episode?
Greg Lambert 14:01
Yeah, so first of all, I absolutely loved it. So that first scene where she is practicing her closing argument, that was just a great way to start it off. But I have to say that I was immediately hooked because as they’re scanning the camera back from that scene, I spot a bunch of things on the wall and I spot that bookcase. If I may take a minute just to kind of go through some of the things that were that were on that bookshelf because I spent a lot of time looking those over and I took a snapshot of it and sent it to some law library friends of mine to have them helped me identify some of the things that that were on there. The first that I noticed was on the wall there were two degrees from UCLA. One was a law degree and I’m assuming the other one was a undergraduate degree. But on the bookshelf itself and Joshua you probably know this that for like TV shows like Law and Order, companies like, Lexis or Thomson Reuters will actually pay them to place their product on those bookshelves. And so you’ll see a beautiful set of national reporters the beige and perfectly numbered.
Joshua Lenon 15:15
Yeah. With the little red blocks along that. Yeah,
Greg Lambert 15:18
Yeah, exactly. Those are paid placements, usually. What it showed me on this one was there must not have been a paid placement because they had something from everyone that is relevant in the legal world. So they had the California Reporters from Thomson Reuters West Publishing.
Joshua Lenon 15:36
Greg Lambert 15:37
They had some Understanding titles from Lexis and Carolina Press. They had ABA, the American Bar Association had some of their titles up there. The Business of Law from Barron’s was up there. So you know, so they covered a lot there. And I was joking with someone that, you know, unless some of those books just fell off the shelf, they will, they will never be open. Those are not for reading. Those are just for looking.
Joshua Lenon 16:03
Greg Lambert 16:03
There’s tons of UCLA figurines that are there, which makes sense. She has two bobble head dolls, one’s Michelle Obama, and one is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And then she also has a Kamala Harris doll there. She has a “See you later, Litigator” cup on the shelf there, which is for a litigator, we would love to have something like that. Tons of beer steins. I’m not sure if there’s, maybe there’s a story behind having all these beer steins. But there were four or five beer steins on there. And then the last thing that I that I noticed, that I could identify was that she did have a plaque that says “I’m not arguing I’m just explaining why I’m right.”
Joshua Lenon 16:49
It’s something every litigator has said at least once to their spouse.
Greg Lambert 16:53
Exactly, exactly. So I did, I did notice that there were a few things that I would have expected and a and a litigators office that weren’t there, such as a lot of either yellow or white legal pads to write on. There were no big red welds, which are those accordion files that we put things in. And then the one thing that’s missing, I walked this afternoon across and looked in on a bunch of my attorneys bookshelves, and every one of them has an old CLE class binder that they’ve taken. So those things are there. I don’t know if Jennifer’s taken CLEs or not. So
Joshua Lenon 17:35
Yeah, it’s set in California. We kind of established that. And so that’s a mandatory CLE state she would need to hit those CLE hours?
Greg Lambert 17:43
I would think so.
Joshua Lenon 17:44
I think she’s kind of portrayed as, as earlier in her legal career. She’s not a prosecuting attorney. Yet. The trial that shown in the episode is her first time being a first chair in the trial. And people who aren’t litigators might not know. But just like in the orchestra, you have a first chair and a second chair. And those would be the lead attorney, the person who’s really driving both the strategy and the production of the trial. And then there’ll be second or third chairs. And those will be kind of the junior attorneys who are helping and doing a lot of the work and maybe sometimes addressing the court. But oftentimes, they’re in support roles. And so this is her first time as First Chair, which I think makes her a younger attorney.
Greg Lambert 18:32
Yeah. And my guess was in I may be wrong here. But I was thinking she’s probably close to an eighth year, what we would call an eighth year associate, because she announces that she just got an office. So she’s been there for a while, but she just now has an office. She just now is first chair, but she had veto power over the other attorney on the case who wanted to give the closing argument. And she quickly shut that down. So like I said, it may be off but I’m thinking probably an eighth year.
Joshua Lenon 19:07
Okay, which is still relatively young for a lawyer.
Greg Lambert 19:09
Joshua Lenon 19:10
But it is surprising that there was one other book that you point out are two other books that you pointed out that were missing that most lawyers have sitting on their desk,
Greg Lambert 19:18
so I thought she should have a Black’s Law Dictionary that’s up there. That’s usually pretty standard. A maybe a blue book for citing and or her briefs. Yeah. And so I think those were two things that were missing from the collection.
Joshua Lenon 19:34
Yeah, we need to get Bryan A. Garner on that.
Greg Lambert 19:36
Joshua Lenon 19:37
He’ll get her Black’s Law.
Greg Lambert 19:37
If you know, you know
Joshua Lenon 19:41
Yeah. So you were looking at like kind of the law firm or lawyer lifestyle accoutrements there and I was watching the episode, actually for issue spotting, what legal problems were becoming a part of the episode and they didn’t spend a lot of time on being a lawyer. But there were some legal issues that I think came to the forefront. The first was one that was actually excluded, which is part of her origin story. So in the original comic books, Bruce Banner, her cousin, who is the original Hulk ends up giving his cousin an emergency blood transfusion. And there are a whole host of issues around that from a legal perspective, did he have to, under Good Samaritan laws provide lifesaving treatment? Did he have a form of assault in exposing his cousin to blood that he knew contains a dangerous substance? And in this case, it’s the fictional version of radiation that they call gamma radiation. And that’s what transforms a mild mannered Jennifer Walters from a lawyer to She-Hulk.
Greg Lambert 20:53
The Savage She-Hulk!
Joshua Lenon 20:55
Yeah. And they, I think, thankfully excluded that he intentionally gave her irradiated blood and instead it’s a she was actually trying to help him after an accident, and was just happened to be exposed to the blood in the course of helping her own cousin during a car wreck. And I think that thankfully avoided those issues. But then after she was exposed to became the She Hulk, there’s a scene where she is confronted by some unsavory individuals, and she Hulks out and attacks them. And while I’m not defending the people whom she attacked, I think there are legitimate legal issues around culpability. Was she acting in self-defense? Did she have a reasonable fear that a jury might interpret? Could she be held liable for those actions given that she was operating under an altered state? That was not her own doing? Right? So there’s innkeeper liability law, for example, where her cousin, the Hulk, might now be responsible for that assault, because he’s the one who exposed her to the mind altering substances that are now in her blood. Whereas she might not be liable because she was for an all essence drugged. And then after she becomes the She Hulk, her cousin, absconds her and takes her to his secret lair, which happens to be in Mexico. So now we’re not just kidnapping, we’re trafficking right across foreign borders. And then, after she kind of regains her faculties and decides that she’s done with all of this craziness, just hops in a jeep and drives back from Mexico to LA. Without a passport. So yeah, there are all kinds of immigration issues involved in this episode. None of these things are touched at all. I’m curious to see if they may come back in later episodes. And then there’s one very obvious legal issue that’s been set up as part of the conclusion in this episode. And so we have Jennifer Walters participating as for sharing a trial giving her closing statement. And this is the point where everybody listening should have watched the episode, because definite spoilers,
Greg Lambert 23:15
Joshua Lenon 23:15
The closing arguments are interrupted by a superhuman attack. And Jen Walters transforms into she hauled to save everybody in the courtroom. And I think they’re very clearly setting up a mistrial as a part of this now, interesting. No. And so that’ll be a legal issue that I think will be the core of the next episode.
Greg Lambert 23:36
Yeah. Now, I know the trial itself, apparently, from what I’m reading, it’s Roxxon Corporation, which is always the big bad in the in the MCU. As far as the evil corporation that’s out there. They’re being charged with apparently some wrongful deaths of multiple people with due to some kind of business expansion project. And the rumor is that it may be experiments that they were doing, and the superpowered person who breaks in at the end of the of the episode into the courtroom, the rumor is that she is one of those experiments, that Roxxon did.
Joshua Lenon 24:18
She is the product of some type of potentially criminally negligent action by this corporation, Roxxon. And it’ll be interesting, because in the comic books, the resolutions that She Hulk finds, oftentimes, are different than what we see in kind of the traditional punch everybody solutions that we see like Superman or Batman take. So I am curious to see how they move forward on that. And very curious to see how court procedure is a part of the superhero story.
Greg Lambert 24:50
I know if you’re not a lawyer, especially if you’re not on the criminal defense side. If you listen to the closing argument that the Roxxon’s defense lawyer or had, you may think, wow, this guy is really not a very good lawyer. But I think Joshua, you may have a different spin on what that lawyer was trying to do in his closing argument.
Joshua Lenon 25:12
Yeah, I mean, they’re definitely portraying the defense here as sleazy. Right. But it’s not outside of the bounds of what a defense counsel might be doing in a criminal trial. The burden of proof for the state is beyond a reasonable doubt. So many times what you’re seeing in a criminal trial is they’re just throwing anything and everything in front of the jury to create some type of reasonable doubt. Probably the most famous historical example of that is the defense of OJ Simpson. And when he was charged with murder.
Greg Lambert 25:43
If it doesn’t fit you must acquit.
Joshua Lenon 25:44
That’s right. Yeah. Yes. Try the gloves on if they don’t fit. Clearly. He’s innocent, right? You can’t murder somebody in ill-fitting gloves. But that’s neither here nor there.
Greg Lambert 25:54
Joshua Lenon 25:55
But the fact that that’s a legitimate tactic in the gamesmanship of criminal trials, I think, is accurate.
Greg Lambert 26:04
So Joshua, what should listeners expect from this podcast going forward on what we’re going to cover? I think, obviously, we’re going to we’re going to cover this She Hulk first on this, I think I’m really looking forward to this. Because as Jennifer was saying, this is a fun lawyer show. And from the people I’ve talked to that have caught the first four episodes, they said, it definitely gets more into the lawyer parts of it. So I’m excited to that. But beyond this, what other stuff would you like to get into?
Joshua Lenon 26:38
I definitely think we can go back and take a look at the Daredevil series, which again, another fictional lawyer, Matt Murdock, is the Daredevil, but he also runs his own legal practice. And we do see conflict between those two sides of this person’s identity, using the legal system versus being a vigilante. And I think that would be a fun one to go back and review. There’s also some weird issue spotting that can be done in like 90s X Men movies? Where is it 90s? Or am I dating myself? Where,
Greg Lambert 27:13
Let’s say 2000s,
Joshua Lenon 27:15
Early 2000s? I’ll I feel younger already. Yeah. Where you see the interaction of legislative policymaking? And how that is impacting the superheroes within those stories, and how they’re trying to navigate that with what was the phrase I used earlier, extreme lobbying, when they like, appear the president’s office and frightened him.
Greg Lambert 27:41
Xtreme with an X
Joshua Lenon 27:43
with an X. So there’s lots of areas where the law overlaps with comics, and we should be taking a look at those. They’re probably our safest avenue to explore some of these issues, rather than unfortunately, approaching them blind in real life.
Greg Lambert 28:00
Yeah. Well, Joshua, I’m really excited to dive into some of these issues with you over the next few weeks. I think this is just gonna be a lot of fun.
Joshua Lenon 28:09
Yeah. And before we wrap up, I do want to point out that while it’s great watching lawyers throw giant rocks through the air and leap tall buildings in a single bound, real lawyers are handling the impossible every day. I want to highlight a real life superhuman lawyer that’s in the news right now. And that’s Tony Gonzalez, who was the US attorney who is probably not familiar with for you, but you’re definitely familiar with the case that he’s handling and that’s the search warrant for classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, he is having to deal with an impossible unprecedented situation, and is given it as all and I can’t think of a lawyer better suited for this former state’s attorney, who prosecuted money laundering and RICO cases. Former drug trafficking prosecuting attorney on behalf of the US government, and now handling this type of action at a scrutiny that is just unparalleled. And so, real life superhuman lawyers handling the impossible every day. If you’ve got a recommendation for another superhuman lawyer, I’d like to hear it.
Greg Lambert 29:18
Well. I think that wraps up our first ever practice group meeting of the superhuman law division here. If you want to get on the agenda for the next meeting, or suggest a super lawyer that you know, to be highlighted, you can follow us at @superhumanpod on Twitter. So Joshua Lenon, and I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun going through this show and more superhuman law issues on this podcast. So thank you very much for bringing me along on this ride.
Joshua Lenon 29:46
Thank you. It’s amazing, Greg, thanks for doing this with me.