I just saw the 24th James Bond film, Spectre (watch the trailer here). While I am not going to discuss the merits of this film (there have been better and worse Bond films), I am going to discuss a few elements of the James Bond franchise that I find illustrative of the legal profession.
Just in case you have lived under a rock for the past 50-plus years and you don't know anything about James Bond, here a few factoids:
• The character James Bond (also known as Agent 007) is a highly trained assassin with a license to kill for MI6 (the British Secret Service) who was created by author Ian Fleming.
• Bond made his first appearance in Fleming's 1952 novel Casino Royale.
• The James Bond movie franchise commenced in 1962, when Bond was portrayed in Dr. No by the then up-and-coming Sean Connery. In addition to Connery, Bond has been portrayed by 6 other actors: David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and, most recently, Daniel Craig. (Side note: my personal faves are Connery, Brosnan and now Craig.)
• James Bond is surrounded by a recurring cast of characters that include M, the head of MI6. (Dame Judi Dench played the first female version of the character in the 2006 relaunch of the franchise, Casino Royale, which is helmed by the delectable Craig.) There is also Q, the gadget guy, and Ms. Moneypenny, the trusted girl Friday to M.
• Bond movies are noted for fantastic villains such as Le Chiffre, Mr. Big, Dr. Julius No, Kamal Khan and Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Recently, academy award-winning actors such as Javier Bardem and Cristoph Waltz have been cast as foils to Bond.
• Bond Girls are inevitably part of the equation, with James Bond seemingly irresistible to bodacious beautiful bubble-headed women who can easily be lured into intimate relations with James (Oh James!!!!)
Here is how the Bond franchise illuminates issues we face in the legal profession:
• Bond's relevancy in modern culture is constantly questioned, even by the franchise itself. This is most notably seen in the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall. With the advent of services like LegalZoom and NextAdvisor, the market place constantly challenges the relevancy of lawyers.
• Bond's continual modus operandi with respect to women (see Bond Girls above)—even after his boss was portrayed by one of the most celebrated and revered actresses in the modern era—questions the cultural relevancy of this old school character. Similarly, many Generation Xers and Millennials in the legal profession question the concept of work-life-balance, parity for women in leadership in the legal profession, and the ability of lawyers from culturally and racially diverse backgrounds to succeed in big firm private practice. Even Daniel Craig, one of the most celebrated Bond actors, has been heard to question this continual formula.
• Bond is a highly bespoke instrument of political destruction embodied in a suave, martini-drinking, tuxedo-wearing hot guy. Many lawyers grapple with the image and uniform of a lawyer imposed on the profession by an earlier generation that is far removed from the clients we serve. Many old guard lawyers argue that law is a profession that requires its participants to look the part. Further, many lawyers grapple with the changed nature of the legal profession.
Let's be honest, while we would all love to be the legal equivalent of James Bond (who wouldn't want to be that cool), the relevancy of James Bond today is just as questionable as the relevancy of law schools and an excessive number of highly-paid lawyers.