favorite legal movies

There are a lot of legal dramas and comedies out there. Here, lawyers share their favorites:

“Without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite legal movie is My Cousin Vinny. That movie showed that it isn’t always the slickest or the most experienced attorney who is best to have on your side. If the attorney passionately believes in you and your case, then that’s the one you want standing by you.” —Francine E. Love, a business attorney in New York. 

Erin Brokovich is an all-time favorite simply because of the passion and effort the character portrayed in ensuring justice for the people suffering. The character was not an educated lawyer yet had all the qualities of one!”  —Roshni Lachhwani, an intellectual property rights attorney in Mumbai, India. 

To Kill a Mockingbird.  I am not alone in saying that Addicus Finch inspired me to not only be a lawyer but also be a lawyer for the right reasons.” —Tor Hoerman, a personal injury lawyer specializing in mass tort in Edwardsville, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Chicago, IL.

“Hands down, The Verdict with Paul Newman is the best legal movie ever. In it, you can find an example of almost everything a lawyer runs into in a case.” —Gabriel L.Grasso, a criminal defense trial lawyer in Las Vegas.

A Time to Kill because it had a great story, great actors, great courtroom scenes, and probably the greatest closing argument on film.”   —Jesse Klaproth, a lawyer in Philadelphia whose firm focuses on employment law, whistleblower law, and consumer fraud class actions.  

“12 Angry Men is an incredibly insightful movie.  It is the reason I always recommend keeping a case out of the hands of a jury, if possible, because any given jury can do anything.  Each jury is different, but human nature, for the better or worse, defines the result.” —Ellis Bennett, a lawyer whose firm focuses on commercial law and intellectual property law nationwide.

I love movies that portray strong women making decisions that are are in the leading edge of society. I recently watched Miss Sloane, and although in the movie she is a lobbyist, her level of strategy is one that can be greatly used in real life, especially women litigators.  —Renata Castro, an immigration attorney in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Primal Fear with Ed Norton and Richard Gear. The film tells the story of a Chicago defense attorney who believes his altar boy client is not guilty of murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop. The court room scenes were filmed at the Chicago 26th Street Court House.” —Michael J. Petro, a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

A Civil Action.  This was based on a true story battle fought by an environmental lawyer over toxins in the city water supply. I enjoyed that the main character laid down everything for the fight based on principle, something the best lawyers always strive to do.” —Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney in Orlando.

“I find most courtroom movies absolutely dreadful, as they violate so many rules out of ignorance and laziness, not for the purpose of telling the story better. However, the courtroom scenes in Jagged Edge were really good. They raised the tension in the story as the evidence might be building from the accused, played by Jeff Bridges . . . or maybe toward him.” —Rich Matthews, a trial consultant and attorney based in San Francisco who works on civil and criminal cases nationwide. 

“To Kill A Mockingbird is still my favorite legal film, but my guilty favorite is My Cousin Vinny. In this film when the prosecutor throws out his hands to the jury and declares ‘a perfect match,’ it reminds me how difficult it can be to allow the jury to reach their own conclusions. I also think it reflects how absurd we all (as lawyers) probably look to juries if we let ourselves get over-excited.”—Alan LeVar, an attorney who practices motor vehicle collisions in Arkansas.