Did The Writers of “The Good Wife” Take My Idea? (And What I Want Do About It)

Short Version:

Help me convince CBS and The Good Wife to give me an interview with the main character ofThe Good Wife, Alicia Florrick, as part of my Dispatches from the Y Chromosome series for theMs. JD website.

Tweet the following or something similar to the Twitter accounts of the writers of The Good Wifeand The Good Wife CBS:

Hey @GoodWifeWriters and @TheGoodWife_CBS Draft Alicia for @rightbrainlaw’s project on @msjdtweets Please RT.

If you want more information on the why and how of this request and project, read on.

Longer Version:

I don’t think the writers of The Good Wife borrowed my idea. And even if they did I’m OK with it. What I really want to know is: (1) Are they reading my blog? And, if so, (2) are they willing to allow their main character to contribute to a growing body of interviews on women and the law for “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women lawyers”?

Just Coincidence?

Almost two years ago I published a post on this blog called “Where Creativity Goes to Die.” The title of the post was a quote by one of the recurring characters in The Good Wife, entrepreneur Neil Gross, who said, while walking through the Lockhart Gardner offices, “So, this is where creativity goes to die.”

 This is where creativity goes to die

Neil Gross (played by John Benjamin Hickey) on The Good Wife

(Image Credit: The Good Wife, CBS, and

Using the quote as a jumping-off point I riffed on how and why lawyers are too risk-averse and what they can do to change both that fact and the perception of that fact. Near the end of the post I wrote: “law firms may never have the frenetic energy of the start-up garage or the quirky inspiration of artists’ creative space . . . .”

Then, I posted the piece. That was August 30, 2012

In April of 2013 two of the main characters in The Good Wife, Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos, agreed to leave Lockhart Gardner to form their own firm, Florrick Agos. Their exit, which was dramatically messy and extremely well written and executed on the show, was finally completed on screen in November 2013. Fancier, more “lawyerly” office space fell through, and the fledgling firm ended up in a warehouse-like space with exposed brick and ductwork, an open “creative” feel, and conference rooms without doors (a feature that was alluded to in a very recent episode).

There are good explanations for this coincidence that don’t involve me or my blog. Perhaps The Good Wife writers never saw my post.  My post didn’t get many views when I published it in August 2012, though it got some in the fall of 2013.

It’s also possible that the writing for that season of The Good Wife was completed well in advance of the publication of my post even though the trajectory of the new firm was not yet publicly known. I published my blog in August of 2012 and the season in which the idea for the new firm was formed debuted in January 2013. Their writing could have been done and the season already shot before I even published.

Finally, I’m not the only one to have thought about or remarked on the fact that lawyers are not usually found in the types of “creative” environments in which we see many startups today. The writers at The Good Wife could made that observation on their own.

My Proposal

Given (1) that my post predated the public airing of the transition for the fictional Florrick Agos firm, (2) the close alignment of my ideas with the show’s story arc, and (3) that the shots in the new Florrick Agos space seem to have a certain “frenetic energy,” I started to wonder whetherThe Good Wife’s writers had read my blog and taken my post as some kind of inspiration or challenge. My next thought was, “Well, if they are reading, or if I can get them to read, let’s try something interesting.”

So, if you’re listening, writers and creators of The Good Wife, here’s what I propose:

I’d like to have Alicia participate as an interviewee in the Dispatches from the Y Chromosome project that I have been doing this year as a “writer-in-residence” for the Ms. JD organization. In it, I interview female lawyers about their career path, their experiences in the law (and out) and about men and women in the law. More about the project is available here.

Before I go any further, however, the lawyer in me must say something.

**Start boring legal aside**

This is not an attempt to extort CBS or The Good Wife, or an attempt to get The Good Wife to notice me in order to reinforce the validity of my infringement claim. As I said, there any many possible explanations for this coincidence that don’t involve copying. And, even if The Good Wifedid draw inspiration from my blog, I’m not even sure that my idea is protectable. Nonetheless to demonstrate my benign intent I formally waive any claims of infringement against The Good Wife and CBS. Specifically, I waive here and now any and all claims of infringement related to any ideas, concepts, stories or principles I have posted on this blog or elsewhere as against the writers of The Good Wife, CBS, its parent companies, affiliates, vendors and associates as it relates to The Good Wife television show and any and all characters, stories or ideas therein.

I’m happy to sign something more formal as well. This is not about my idea, it’s about doing something novel and interesting.

I’ll also add that the writers of The Good Wife will have final editorial control over the content of the interview, provided it doesn’t slam me or the Ms. JD organization. I want to make sure that they are comfortable with whatever we come up with.

**End boring legal aside**

With that out of the way the lawyers at CBS or The Good Wife or wherever should understand that there’s little legal risk  for them in this proposed endeavor.


So, why should the good people at The Good Wife work with me on this project? First, it will benefit The Good Wife by allowing them to present a more comprehensive picture of the character of Alicia. Second, it will allow an already great show to do something that hasn’t been really been done both in television and the law.

Participating in the Dispatches from the Y Chromosome project will provide The Good Wife an opportunity to present a fuller picture of Alicia than is seen on screen, making her a better and more believable character. Through it The Good Wife can contribute to the ongoing dialogue about what it means to be a working woman and a working woman attorney today. Although fictional, Alicia Florrick is a prominent example of a new breed of a successful woman attorney trying to manage her law partnership, her role as a mother, and, in Alicia’s specific case, a challenging marital situation. The Good Wife is a very popular show popular among even, or perhaps especially, lawyers. So, many woman lawyers to-be and those who are lawyers already undoubtedly will and do look to Alicia if not in aspiration then surely as an example of one of many paths they could follow. The interview will provide a more multidimensional perspective of Alicia and will add The Good Wife’s voice to important discussions about men, women, motherhood, the workplace, and the law.

In line with the purpose of this blog, this proposal is an opportunity if not to disrupt then certainly to challenge convention in two industries that are struggling to cope with a new economic, social and electronic landscape: law and network television.

Lawyers in real life are generally not considered to be entrepreneurial, creative, or cutting edge. While some may argue about whether this is creating a business problem for lawyers it has certainly created an image problem (see Edward Conard’s comments about lawyers being “’sideline-sitters’ who leave the hard work of risk and its associated creativity, innovation, and wealth creation to others favoring instead to manage the wealth that the risk-takers have already generated” in my Where Creativity Goes to Die post). Further, the profession has fostered a culture that confines much of lawyers’ thinking to established rules and precedent and discourages “outside-the-box” thinking.

Similarly network television is struggling to adapt to and compete with innovations in content creation and content consumption. Cable television is creating a significant amount of quality, compelling content that now largely outstrips the major networks in critics’ if not viewers’ ratings. Viewers increasingly ignore the set schedules and advertising models of network television in favor of consuming streamed, recorded, or altogether alternative content online, through Netflix, or on their own personal DVRs.

By participating in this interview Alicia Florrick, a fictional television female lawyer can directly influence a discussion on men, women, work and the law, on a digital platform designed to advance the dialogue about work and life among actual women attorneys.

think this will make sense if I get more wine

(GIF Credit: The Good Wife, CBS, and The Huffington Post)


The interview with Alicia will help lawyers better understand how society views them by putting a made-up but very influential woman lawyer who was created, so far as I can tell, by non-lawyers side-by-side with other real woman lawyers.

The interview would also put The Good Wife and CBS at the forefront of entertainment bybreaking the fourth wall in a novel and provocative way. The interview creates an interplay between real, online, and fictional experiences that is the future of entertainment, culture, commentary and work (other interesting examples of this emerging trend include the recently announced New Mexico Law Review’s Breaking Bad issue and Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC). This is the logical next step for The Good Wife a network program that is “the most tech-savvy show on TV” and “the best thing on TV outside cable.”

A pretty cool idea, right?

But I Need Your Help!

I’m sure that I’ll hear right away from CBS and The Good Wife. However, in the event that they aren’t reading, or just haven’t gotten around to responding yet, can you help me? I’d like to bury their Twitter accounts with a flood of virtual requests. Please Tweet the following or something similar to The Good Wife CBS and The Good Wife writers’ accounts:

Hey @GoodWifeWriters and @TheGoodWife_CBS Draft Alicia for @rightbrainlaw’s project on @msjdtweets Please RT.

Thanks! (A lot!)

This isn’t about copying or even about my ideas on entrepreneurial lawyering. Instead it’s about reexamining how we think about women, the law, lawyers, work, and even interactive entertainment, technology, and the lines between real life and fiction. So, help me find out whether the writers of The Good Wife are out there, combing the internet for inspiration just as we all do, and if so, if they will contribute to changing the way we all think about women, television, and the law.

Leave a Reply