'The law can be a debating club where the person with the cleverest verbal aptitude wins," David Tennant says.
And the British actor, well known for playing Doctor Who and the lead role in Broadchurch, plays one such clever chap in the three-part legal thriller The Escape Artist, which premieres this week on SoHo.
The show's title is the nickname of Tennant's character, gifted barrister Will Burton. Burton's career is on the rise, and every criminal he has defended has walked free.
"He's ethical but he exploits loopholes in the law, using whatever it takes to find a way out for his clients," Tennant says.
But Burton's brilliance proves to be his undoing when he "flies too close to the sun", as Tennant puts it, and obtains an acquittal for Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell), accused of the brutal murder of a young woman.
Despite his victory in court, for the first time Burton harbours doubts about his actions. And one careless move at the end of the trial brings disarray and danger into both his professional career and his personal life as a husband and father.
"If you're privileged enough to be reading a number of scripts, the ones that you don't want anyone else to have are quite easy to recognise," Tennant says.
"And this was one of those. I read it straight through and was completely hooked and convinced, teased and satisfied by it, dramatically and emotionally.
"When you have a reaction to a script that strongly, you've got to recognise it and make the most of it."
In writing The Escape Artist, Spooks creator David Wolstencroft wanted to explore "the blood and guts" lurking beneath the surface of the law, which can often seem like "an intellectual exercise".
"I wanted to write a thriller set in the legal world that's as much about those primal feelings as it is about the twists and turns of the case," Wolstencroft says.
Tennant sought to bring credibility to the project by researching the work practices of barristers like Burton and the way they conduct themselves in court.
"One barrister told me that acting is nine-tenths of what he does, but I wouldn't have their skill," he says.
"Three barristers could all say the same stuff, but the way they deliver it is part of how you receive it and part of who you believe, and in the end it's all about who you believe is delivering the truth.
"I spent time in court and marvelled at their mental dexterity. I watched one thrilling case where the defendant's guilt looked cut and dried - and in the end he was found guilty - but his barrister convinced me in five minutes that his client was innocent and persecuted by the system.
"So there's a huge performance element, and when playing those scenes you feel that."
Who: David Tennant, the former Doctor Who and recent star of Broadchurch
What: The Escape Artist
When and where: SoHo Wednesday, 9.30pm; encore Sundays 7.30pm