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October 21, 2009 2:52 PM

Coming Soon: Law Firm Reality Television

Posted by Brian Baxter

Joetacopina

Reality TV junkies take note: According to a story by The Hollywood Reporter, prominent New York trial lawyer Joseph Tacopina and his firm Tacopina Seigel & Turano might soon be the subject of a new reality series called Legal Ease.

Tacopina, called by some the "Rocky Balboa of criminal defense" for taking on high-profile clients like former New York Post reporter Jared Paul Stern, has been in the news lately for representing New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate on charges he assaulted his former girlfriend. (Monserrate was convicted of misdemeanor assault last week, but acquitted on more serious felony charges.)

The Am Law Daily caught up with Tacopina, a frequent legal analyst for various media outlets who has dabbled in journalism, to talk about the show.

Hey Joe, thanks for taking the time. Tell me about Legal Ease.

[The executive producers] are in talks with networks right now. The idea was to put the concept together, pilot it, test run it, and then shop it to a network. As of now there's no deal at all, but Scott Sternberg, a big guy in Hollywood, is behind this along with [former investigative reporter] Scott Weinberger. I'm just plugging along with my practice.

When were you approached with the idea?

They came to me a few years ago with a different concept that I wasn't that interested in. It had a reality bent to it where I'd have clients and [viewers] would watch their case unfold. But even though there was some interest from the big boys, I wasn't comfortable with that. It seemed like exploiting a client. Then the idea was to do one of those Judge Judy-type shows, but there's a bunch of those out there and it seemed too lowbrow for me.

So the idea of Legal Ease is that people will come to you on TV for legal advice?

Exactly. Aside from being good entertainment, this would actually help people. It's real people with real legal problems in a studio setting. I'll have a panel of lawyers from different disciplines who would take on their issues and give advice. It won't be gaudy or cheesy.

Do they still have to pay your retainer?

(Laughing.) No, no, no. That was the point, I didn't want to go that route. These won't be clients.

Will the other folks on your panel be from your firm?

Yes, some of my partners like Chad Seigel and Stephen Turano are great lawyers and they'll help out. Chad just tried the Monserrate case with me. And then we'll have a divorce lawyer, a personal injury lawyer, a contract lawyer, and a few other disciplines to help out.

And you'll film this in your spare time?

It'll all take place here in New York so it doesn't take away from my practice, which is what I do and love. They film these things in blocks at a time, so one week out of a month that I already have free, I might as well use up.

Quick question about an old client of yours, Bernie Kerik, who had his bail revoked yesterday. Are you going to testify in his corruption case?

It's crazy. They haven't subpoenaed me, and I think my issue has been resolved. Talk about a 360, I can't believe he's in jail right now.

All interviews are condensed and edited for style, clarity, and grammar.

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