I remember starting my Paralegal degree program a few years ago with the introduction of, “don’t expect being a paralegal will be like in the tv shows.” And one of the follow up questions was, “What law are you interested in?”
A lot of my classmates answered, “Criminal law”.
Was this a surprising answer? It wasn’t to me and it wasn’t to our teachers because Criminal law was always the most popular answer amongst new students.
One of NAMLE’s core principles of media literacy education is, “Media Literacy Education recognizes that media are a part of culture and function as agents of socialization.”
A lot of the students who started the program with me got the idea of being a paralegal from tv shows like Suits. They also stated it was shows like Law & Order that increased their interest in Criminal law. It was very hard for me not to cringe. While I agree shows like those are so entertaining to watch, it shouldn’t be what will influence your decision in choosing your legal careers. It’s taxing, costly, and will disappoint you if being a paralegal or gaining a legal profession won’t meet up to your expectations from what was seen on TV.
That’s why learning media literacy is an important part of film and TV education. The definition of Media literacy is the ability to decode media messages coupled with diagraming the influence of those messages on viewers’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
To being more media literate, you gain the critical skills to analyze the ideas and media representations films and TV shows are trying to present to us.
I was lucky enough to find great mentors and I read a lot of books to make my own determinations that being a paralegal will not be like Rachel Zane (the paralegal character in Suits). My office is not that large and I barely have enough time to eat, let alone chatting away with a fake lawyer. I knew what I was getting myself into and the expectations. I was taught the best way to learn is to keep an open mind.
Processing what the media represents and examining the realistic and unrealistic point of views in the legal profession earlier on will help individuals like my classmates deal with the disappointment and stress when they find out, it’s not like in the tv shows.
Because, imposter syndrome is real.