Fairly Legal opens with a spontaneous micromini flashmob. Kate runs for the elevator with two cups of coffee. Ben holds the elevator for her and she and a messenger step into an already fullish car.
“Hallelujah” (the sound is tinny, but probably Jeff Buckley) is playing and Kate starts humming along. Ben looks at her. She looks up at him. Keeps humming. The others start looking and smiling (because that’s perfectly normal in a big city). Ben tells them all not to encourage her as Kate breaks out into song (Sarah Shahi is not) and the rest of the car chimes in and even Ben is forced into joining. It is a great song, but really? A sing-along in an elevator?
Ben and Kate get out of the car singing. It’s silly but fun. Kate hands one of the cups to Leo. He asks if she is trying to get on the good side of karma. He knows her very well. She wants a good apartment, within walking distance of the firm that won’t break her bank account.
Leo has a young woman (Laci Mailey) with him. Ashley’s a new friend who needs legal help. She sold a comic book to a publisher for $700, signed a contract saying it was a work for hire. The comic is selling great. 36,000 copies in the first week is great. Kate tells him that intellectual property is Lauren’s thing. So he stalks Lauren until she agrees to help even though she initially says she can’t take on a contingency case right now.
Lauren agrees anyway. She gets the company to pay Ashley for every comic sold, but it’s a little too easy. Leo points that out, and when they realize that the company is about to sell the movie rights? Well, Lauren really gets to work.
Ben asks Kate for a favor. When he joined Reed & Reed, a local journal ran an article about him and the firm. It mentioned that the firm does mediation and now the attorney general has called him because some inmates have been on a hunger strike at a local women’s prison. He asks her to do it, but begs her to please not get side tracked the way she is prone to do. Kate agrees.
Ben drives Kate to the prison and she meets with the warden (Wendy Crewson). She explains the situation and brings her in to meet with the inmates. Kate asks what they want. The prison is extremely overcrowded (in real life this is why people like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton wind up serving less than a month and often just a hours of a light sentence). They want more cells. Kate explains that they have to give her something to work with, that with the state’s fiscal crisis, more cells are not doable.
They complain about the food and demand better food, fruits and vegetables twice a week. Kate thinks this is doable and turns to look at the warden. She says she can’t agree to that. It would be way too expensive to implement, plus all the hassle of trying to find vendors and so forth. As crazy as that sounds, it’s probably true. Fresh fruit and vegetables are definitely more expensive than frozen or canned, plus with a state agency, there would likely have to be some sort of open bid for the contract. The women look really displeased. The leader mentions that this strike could spread. Then a woman in the back offers a different option. There’s an open area in the compound where the inmates could plant and grow their own fresh produce. Kate likes that idea a lot. The other inmates do, too. The warden likes it too, but she has to get it okayed. The hunger strike won’t end until then.
Kate is intrigued by Lea (Agnes Bruckner), the woman with the garden idea. She asks to speak to her. The warden agrees but tells her that Lea doesn’t really have any pull with the other prisoners because she claims to be innocent, not just to the outside world, but inside as well. Ben begs her not to do her Kate thing, but it’s obvious that it’s already too late.
Kate talks to Lea, and then asks her about her case. When Lea was 19, she had a boyfriend and a credit card. He asked her to rent a car so that they could go away together. She agreed. He used it to rob a bank, with another woman no less. She wasn’t even there, but a woman was shot and killed during the robbery and now she was given 15 years. She’s so zen about it that Kate can’t hide her skepticism. She explains that she raged at first, but realized she couldn’t survive like that. She’s been denied parole three times because they want her to apologize, and she won’t since she didn’t do it. Only her sister-in-law recently died, and she wants to be there for her brother and two nephews. She doesn’t know what to do. Kate tells her that she will. Ben is not thrilled.
A very cursory investigation reveals that there were other bank robberies with the same m.o. and that a man and woman died while fleeing from another one. The dead woman could be Lea’s sister. If Kate didn’t believe before, she totally does now. Ben tries to get a new hearing, but the judge denies it. She goes to the widower of the woman killed and shows him the photos and he decides not to attend the parole hearing. Kate brings all this to the board, but they don’t want to hear it. Fairly legal? Maybe, but not very just. Lea decides she can’t lie, despite Ben’s advice. She’s denied parole but the attorney general announces a gardening program in all the prisons and the hunger strike ends.
Waiting for the elevator, Kate thanks Ben for his help, and Ben kisses Kate. They both look stunned.