Estate Planning in Pop Culture: HBO's Perry Mason

Perry Mason just returned to HBO for Season 2 – after a pandemic-long hiatus – and it’s great entertainment.

Season 1 introduced us to Matthew Rhys’ version of Mason – the young, inexperienced, unprincipled and down-on-his-luck private investigator turned criminal defense attorney. This Mason is nothing like the 1950s character played by Raymond Burr. Rather, it’s an origin story. We see Mason as he gets his start and finds his place in legal practice. Season 1 focuses on a murder trial in which Mason takes over as lead attorney and successfully defends a young mother falsely accused of murdering her child. (Read my post on Season 1)

When Season 2 opens, Mason is now running his own law practice – with an office, two (2) employees, and a list of clients – as well as a lot of help from his whip-smart assistant/paralegal, Della Street. Within the first 10 minutes of Episode 1, we learn that Mason has given up a criminal law practice in favor of more conventional and mundane legal matters, including Estate Planning. He and Della start their day reviewing the terms of a couple’s Wills, as well as the titling of their assets, while Mason doodles on a legal pad. But you get the sense pretty quickly that Mason is not cut out for Will and Trust drafting or representing those whose primary concern is passing on wealth. And that’s the point, as we’re soon thereafter introduced to a new villain-turned-victim whose murder will become the storyline of Season 2.