10 Movies every aspiring lawyer should watch

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Updated on Jan 6, 2017 17:53 IST

List of movies every aspiring lawyer should watch

Films are a good source by means of which one can easily and without much brain-wracking receive information.

Well, if we say that “law” and “courtrooms” are known to form an integral part of many movies, you may not agree with us and stress that law and order cannot make for an interesting watch.

However, this is far from the truth because most of the films revolving around law are known to set records and in some instances even created history.

Thus, we insist that before any aspirant decides to pursue a career in law, he/she should definitely consider watching the below mentioned movies and develop a fair idea of law and order conditions of the society at large.

A Few Good Men

Released in 1992, A Few Good Men had an impressive cast of Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The plot of the movie revolves around the court martial of two US Marines who are charged with the murder of a fellow marine. During the course of the trial, Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) has a strong hunch that the Marines carried out a "code red" and wants to defend them. However, an inexperienced US Navy lawyer, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is given the case.

The movie is known to have some of the most explosive courtroom scenes and is known to have a gripping end.

Why you should watch it:

In order to be a good lawyer and to arrive at the truth, one needs to explore every facet of the case at hand. Even if you are new to the system always keep an eye out and never fear to question anyone whatever his/her occupation, status or rank is because the law is the same for everyone.

The Paper Chase

The movie is based on a 1970’s novel by the same name written by John Jay Osborn, Jr. The (movie) premise revolves around James Hart, a fresher at Harvard Law School. Hart is in for a surprise when he attends the first class conducted by Professor Charles Kingsfield and expects the professor to explain basics. However, Professor Kingsfield prefers teaching by the inquiry and discussion medium and when he ends up asking Hart a question; he does not know how to respond to the question and feels absolutely humiliated before the entire class. The rest of the movie revolves around how Hart works his way up and tries to become one of the best performers of his batch. The movie also showcases cut-throat competition and study techniques adopted by law graduates in law schools.

Why you should watch it:

The movie is a very close representation of what one should expect in a law school. Thus, every aspirant should watch it to know that surviving law school is not an easy road to tread.

The Accused

Released in 1988, The Accused is loosely based on a real incident wherein a working woman, Cheryl Araujo was gang-raped in a bar at Massachusetts in 1983.

The plot of the movie revolves on how Sarah Tobias (name changed of victim) was raped and thereafter her case has been assigned to Kathryn Murphy, an assistant district attorney, who wants to shut the case but is advised by her superior to enter a plea bargain. However, the victim is enraged by this deal because she wants the court to hear her side of the story. In an act of frustration, Tobias rams her car into a pickup truck driven by a witness of the crime who encouraged the rapists. Following this incident Kathryn decides to investigate the case to depth and further on prosecute the men who raped the victim as well as those who cheered them on to commit the crime.

Why you should watch it:

The movie has quite a few courtroom scenes and is a good means to understand how witnesses are questioned during a trial. The film also gives law aspirants a fair idea of how a criminal case proceeding takes place and what tasks a lawyer needs to perform in such a situation.

The Verdict

A courtroom drama released in 1982, The Verdict is the story of Frank Galvin, a promising graduate of Boston College Law School who joins an elite law firm in Boston. However, things take a downward dwindle for him when he is framed with jury tampering by one of the senior partners of the firm because he was about to expose the firm’s corrupt practices.

Due to this, Galvin becomes an alcoholic but things change for the good when Mickey, his former teacher and friend sends him a medical malpractice case. The rest of the movie revolves around how Frank fights the case in court against a high priced attorney.

Why you should watch it:

Aspirants should watch the movie for the court hearings that take place in the movie. Also, watch the movie for the closing argument in the movie wherein Frank delivers weighty dialogues to the jury along the lines of – they are the law and they should first seek truth and justice in their hearts and only after that they should vote.

Erin Brockovich

Released in 2000, Erin Brochovich is a biographical but a little dramatised adaptation of the life of Erin Brochovich who sued the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), an energy corporation for contaminating the water of a town Hinkley where PG&E has a plant. The plot of the movie revolves around how Brockovich gathers evidence and builds a strong case against the energy corporation.

Why you should watch it:

The movie is based on a real life incident and states that if one truly believes in the task at hand and is prepared to fight against whatever/whoever comes in his/her way then nothing can stop them. So, every aspiring lawyer should have these traits of Erin Brochovich deeply instilled in their hearts.

And Justice for All

A 1979 courtroom drama, And Justice for All, stars Al Pacino in the lead role. The movie revolves around the life and times of Arthur Kirkland, a defense attorney in Baltimore. Arthur is in jail for assaulting a judge, Henry T. Fleming, of the case he fought.

Arthur represents two clients, both of whom are innocent but due to holes in the legal system they are charged for crimes which they never committed. This leads to a situation wherein Arthur is asked to defend Fleming for a crime which Fleming is guilty of committing. The movie further revolves around how Arthur fights this case.

Why you should watch it:

As a lawyer, there may come a situation where you start questioning the entire legal system and the movie is a must watch for law aspirants to understand this facet of pursuing a career in law. Also, one of the most popular courtroom scenes is from this film wherein Pacino shouts out that – “You’re out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order”.

Presumed Innocent

A movie adaptation of the best-selling novel by the same name, Presumed Innocent has Harrison Ford in the lead role of Rozat "Rusty" Sabich. The movie revolves around the rape and murder of Carolyn Polhemus, a former girlfriend of Rusty. Further, this case is handed over to Rusty and when evidence is collected from the crime scene, he is shocked to find that all of them point to him being the murderer. Rusty requests top Defense Attorney, Sandy Stern to take over the case. Sandy investigates and appears for further hearings of the case and unearths many mysteries related to the crime.

Why you should watch the movie:

Aspiring lawyers need to know how crime scenes are investigated and what all they need to take into account in terms of evidence and how they should get witnesses to appear for the hearing of their case. All these aspects can be learnt from this movie.

The Firm

This movie is an adaptation of John Grisham’s novel by the same name. This 1993 legal thriller stars Tom Cruise in the lead role as Mitch McDeere, a final year Harvard Law School student. Mitch is a promising student and is offered a job with Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a law firm that specialises in accounting as well as tax law. Drunk by money and power, Mitch stars enjoying his stay at the firm but his happiness goes for a toss when he gets entrapped in illegal work undertaken by the firm as well as two murders of fellow employees. The rest of the movie revolves around how Mitch uses his intelligence to save himself from getting framed as well as dying a mysterious death.

Why you should watch this movie:

The world of law is not as black and white as the lawyer’s uniform. Thus, in order to survive one needs to quickly learn the tricks of the trade which the movie explains in detail.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Released in 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird is based on Harper Lee’s novel by the same name and the movie received widespread critical acclaim. The plot of the movie revolves around Atticus Finch who is a lawyer in Maycomb which is a racially divided town of Alabama. In this town, Finch takes up the case to defend Tom Robinson, a young black man, who is accused of raping a white woman. The town’s people try all means at their end to make Finch walk out of the case and even his children are attacked.

Why you should watch the movie:

Aspiring lawyers need to be brave enough to stand against the majority in order to bring justice to the world and ensure that truth and justice stand above everything.

My Cousin Vinny

A 1992 movie, My Cousin Vinny is a legal comedy film which revolves around how New York University’s students Billy Gambini and tan Rothenstein are falsely put on trial for a murder they did not commit. To help them, Billy’s cousin Vinny who is a personal injury lawyer and who is newly admitted to the bar after six attempts takes on the case. Vinny also lies that he is has a lot of trial experience whereas he is set to appear for the first trial of his life for his cousin. The movie further shows how Vinny fights the case in court.

Why you should watch the movie:

Although the movie is not a serious courtroom drama but the film has been applauded by senior lawyers as they feel that it depicts courtroom procedures as well as trial strategy in an extremely realistic light.

These are the movies we feel that all law aspirants should definitely watch. If you feel we have missed any such movie, please share the same in our comments section below.

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Aman Chauhan

7 years ago

So biased. Why not Jolly LLB?

Reply to Aman Chauhan

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