Let’s be honest, here…
Lawyers have been the subject of a plethora of films in Hollywood.
How about knowing which of those movies is a favorite amongst real lawyers? As a result, you’re in the best of hands.
In the spirit of lighthearted fun, our law office decided to compile a list of the 10 best movies about lawyers.
You can’t help but criticise a film version of your career, no matter what it is. When it comes to watching movies about lawyers, courtroom dramas, and legal conflicts, it’s safe to say that attorneys are no exception.
Seeing a movie and thinking, “Hey, that might actually happen!” is always astounding, regardless of how humorous or serious the story is. “Yes, that’s exactly what happens.” “I can utilize that!” is even better.
In that case, if you’re thinking about going to law school, you might want to reconsider.
or if you’re curious about what it’s like to be a lawyer…
Or, if you’re just looking for a good movie to see, here are ten highly recommended films from actual lawyers.
How did we come up with our list? Well, we just asked our friends and colleagues in the legal profession one simple question:
Why did you choose that particular legal film as your all-time favorite?
Following the feedback we received, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best movies about lawyers.
#10 – A Few Good Men
A Few Good Men comes in at number ten on our list. Tom Cruise and Demi Moore star as military lawyers tasked with the defense of two Marines accused of murder in this 1992 action thriller.
This movie gives us a great look at how a trial goes. But it also accomplishes what a great film should accomplish. To understand the human situation, we must look at this.
Aside from the courtroom, Tom Cruise’s character in the film is also engaged in a battle of the mind. Also, he’s trying to get out from under the shadow of his father, a famous attorney. Has to ask himself if he’s good enough all the time. For anyone who has ever had the experience of having a famous father as a lawyer, you know what it’s like.
Another aspect of this picture that appeals to legal professionals is the role played by Demi Moore. The best role she’s ever played may have been in this movie. She portrays a type of person you’re likely to encounter in the legal and commercial worlds, and she does it well. Tom Cruise’s character asks, “Why do you keep handing me your resume?” Maybe she’s afraid she, too, will fall short. It’s a common occurrence in our field.
#9 – Amistad
The Steven Spielberg picture Amistad, starring Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman, comes in at number nine on our list.
On a ship sailing from Africa to the coast of Long Island, a slave insurrection takes place. How does this film deal with the topic of where the ship originally came from? There is a strong possibility that the ship originated from Africa, where unlawful slavery is common. A different set of rules would apply if the ship had originated in Cuba (as some say).
This film’s focus on “narrative” is one of the many reasons it appeals to lawyers. When it comes to courtroom work, the most critical element is the story you tell. And this film does a fantastic job of demonstrating that concept.
“What’s their story?” is a question Morgan Freeman is asked by Anthony Hopkins’ character in the movie. It’s a work of cinematic art that also provides a profound legal lesson.
Cinque, the slave, asks Anthony Hopkins’ character what words he used to persuade the court once the courtroom battle is over. When he hears them, he responds, “Your words,” in response. And lawyers do it, too. We tell the tales of our clients.
#8 – Dark Waters
Dark Waters, a courtroom thriller starring Mark Ruffalo, is the eighth film on our list. This movie is based on the article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” from the New York Times Magazine. While working for an environmental defense firm, he is thrust into the role of a plaintiff’s counsel in order to help his clients sue the chemical business that polluted their environment.
This is the first time we’ve heard of it. However, it came highly recommended by a number of attorneys. Let us know what you think!
#7 – Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde, the 2001 comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, comes in at number seven on our list.
As previously stated, a great film teaches us something about ourselves. There is a tale within and a story outside of yourself. In this case, the protagonist is a conventional sorority queen who has been dumped by her boyfriend, and the tale revolves around her. She enrolls in Harvard Law School, where he is a student, in order to rekindle their relationship. It’s the inner tale, though, in which she learns about herself along the road that makes her more than just a lovely face who can plan parties. She’s a good lawyer who’s worth her weight in gold.
In addition, attorneys enjoy this film since it touches on a relevant topic in the legal profession. That is to say, you should never assume anything about your opponent. Even though Elle is a powerful adversary, no one takes her seriously in this film, which reveals a crucial feature of lawyer life:
Amanda Brown’s real-life experiences as a blonde attending Stanford Law School are the inspiration for this film, even if it may appear to be far-fetched at first. A prominent agent was intrigued by her book manuscript since it was the first he’d ever seen printed entirely on pink paper.
#6 – The Rainmaker
The Rainmaker, a 1997 legal drama directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Matt Damon and Danny Devito, comes in at number six on our list. An underdog lawyer is up against a deceitful insurance business in this film.
This film is unique in that it depicts the practical side of being a lawyer. Danny Devito’s persona is also a favorite of lawyers. A man who has failed the Bar Exam six times is played by him in the film. However, he’s a fantastic paralegal. A great paralegal is typically the secret to a successful trial attorney’s success, as any successful trial attorney will tell you. It’s here that the film’s depiction of the life of a lawyer reveals a fundamental truth:
#5 – Anatomy of a Murder
Anatomy of a Murder, starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by Otto Preminger, is at number five on our ranking of the greatest movies of all time.
On trial for murder, the defendant claims that he was temporarily insane because his wife had been raped by the victim. This film appeals to attorneys because it depicts the process of putting up a strong legal defense in the face of a challenging case. This demonstrates a unique component of the legal process, which is that it is fully dependent on human beings, meaning that every part is subject to the fallibility of personal prejudices and viewpoints towards justice, morality and ethics.
#4 – Witness for the Prosecution
Witness for the Prosecution, a film directed by Billy Wilder and based on Agatha Christie’s novel, comes in at number four on our list. Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, and Charles Laughton all appear in this classic Hollywood production portraying Hollywood greats from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
A murder case is once again the focus of this film. But in this situation, the defendant’s wife offers to testify on his behalf so that he can maintain his alibi. Because it properly depicts the legal notion of “credibility,” this picture is a favorite of lawyers.
We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve had to explain to a customer why we believe their mother is a good person who would never tell a lie. Then then, she may be biased in some way.
Even if the plaintiff’s ex-spouses despise them to their core, they believe the plaintiff was wounded or is speaking the truth, and these ex-spouses are the most reliable witnesses we’ve ever seen on the witness stand. In the same way, this film shows the importance of a witness’s credibility. Marlene Deitrich, who portrays the defendant’s wife, is awe-inspiring.
#3 – A Civil Action
The John Travolta starrer A Civil Action comes in at number three on our list. A lawyer takes on a case regarding a firm that contaminated a town’s water supply and caused an outbreak of leukemia. Taking on this case, on the other hand, may cost him his job and destroy his company.
The risk of being a plaintiff’s attorney is well-illustrated in this film. A criminal defense lawyer is compensated regardless of the outcome of the trial, even a hung jury. Similarly, the civil defense lawyer is compensated on an hourly basis. On the other hand, a plaintiff’s attorney’s fee is contingent upon success; if the client’s case is lost, there is no compensation. They also have to cover the costs of the case, which can last for several years. Experts and consultants are required for the legal procedure, but there is no financial assurance.
#2 – The Verdict
The Verdict, starring Paul Newman and directed by Sidney Lumet, is ranked number two on our list. Rather of settling a medical negligence lawsuit, a lawyer sees this as an opportunity to rescue both his career and his self-respect by going to trial instead.
Amusingly, our top ten list landed with A Civil Action and The Verdict adjacent to one other. The Verdict continues up just where Civil Action left off, with a man who has lost all of his money and is now broke and destitute.
When we first meet Paul Newman’s character in The Verdict, he is a failed lawyer who stumbles into a compelling medical negligence case. He’s made a generous settlement offer. And he’s desperate for the cash! What, then, did we say makes a good movie? There is a lesson to be learned from this. This isn’t a legal case for Newman’s character in this film. In the end, it’s about whether or not he can rehabilitate his own life. It’s all about standing up for something greater than one’s own self.
#1 – My Cousin Vinny
Finally, the film My Cousin Vinny, starring Ralph Macchio, Joe Pesci, and Marisa Tomei, comes in first place on our list. It’s got it all!
While on their way back to college in rural Alabama, two New Yorkers are accused of murder. One of their relatives, a loudmouth lawyer named Vinny, has no trial experience and is called in to assist them in their cultural bias defense.
This film is a favorite among lawyers because it demonstrates how bias permeates the legal profession from every angle. Cross-examination tactics and the importance of analogies in presenting ideas are both well-illustrated. And it’s a little bit of a chuckle… That was a hoot!
Consider the film’s focus on the legal system’s use of bias.
During the film’s opening sequence, Mona Lisa Vito, a tough New York girl, assumes that the Alabama village cannot possibly provide good Chinese food.
Prisoners listen in on the boys’ confessions to their families through phone calls home, where they reveal how rotten southerners are and how they sleep with their own relatives.
Since this city lawyer looks down on his courtroom, which the southern judge takes pride in, Vinny is treated harshly by the judge.
Because of her demeanor, we are quick to criticize Mona Lisa as a witness in the trial, but she proves us wrong.
That is the situation then, and how does he end up winning it all? What does he discover as a result of this experience? He comes to realize that he can’t do it alone. A willingness to accept assistance from others is essential to winning trials.