The Law & The Final Frontier
In Star Trek, where are all the lawyers?
It’s not as though they don’t exist in the future; in fact, we do encounter them throughout the run of the Trekverse. But even though starships contain all sorts of experts and scholars and professionals, lawyers never seem to show up on the docket. And when you’re encountering new species with new systems of law on a regular basis, you’d think that would be kind of important, even from a liability standpoint. As queenofmoons puts it:
Even when we do see someone execute a feat of reasonable legal cunning—Picard buying time from the Sheliak, for instance—the fact remains that on a ship of a thousand people, expected to make first contact with new governments with little support, preparing for a legal challenge should not be whatever the busy ship’s captain and its senior mental health professional can whip up on the fly, but a recurring eventuality to prepare for.
Sure, some of this is simply down to who the show wants to spotlight—Trek shows are about their crews, and unless you’re planning to make the starship lawyer a regular in the cast, fans aren’t going to be as interested in watching them argue cases. But shouldn’t there be enough for them to do? It’s amazing watching Picard and Riker go up against each other in “Measure of a Man,” but that doesn’t change the fact that the two of them should never have needed to create this spectacle in the first place. Picard and Riker are both military guys, and their outlying interests don’t have anything to do with law, though Picard’s love of anthropology and archaeology has a few ties in that regard.
I haven’t watched all that much in the way of Star Trek, and most of what I’ve watched is DS9 which is a bit of a different bird. But this is the sort of thing that leaves me finding their universe somewhat less compelling than some of the others.
What do those of you who are fans have to say?