While the holidays look different this year, there is no better time to bake some cookies, brew some tea or cocoa, and put on a great movie! Some people might look to the holiday classics, but we’re taking a shot at compiling (in our humble opinion) what might be some of the best lawyer movies of all time (in no particular order). As we are writing to lawyers about lawyers, we want to be clear that we are not vouching for the legal accuracy of any of these films.
Both films follow Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and success arguing before the Supreme Court, blazing a path for all women, and culminating in her Supreme Court nomination.
Just Mercy (2020)
Michael B. Jordan stars as Harvard-educated attorney Bryan Stevenson, who goes to Alabama in the 1980s to defend the poor, and fights to prove the innocence of a death row inmate (Jamie Foxx). Bryan Stevenson was presented the ABA’s highest honor in 2018, the ABA Medal.
Chadwick Boseman stars as a young Thurgood Marshall as he battles through a career-defining case.
Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Matthew McConaughey stars as a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental sedan.
The Central Park Five (2013)
This film follows the story and prosecution of five Black and Latino teenagers from Harlem wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989.
What was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned into a violent clash with the police. This film follows the notorious trial following the uprising at the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
Not as Recent
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts stars in this film portraying a law firm secretary who worked tirelessly to gain justice for a small town.
The Firm (1993)
Tom Cruise stars in this film portraying a law school grad who uncovers a sinister secret about the law firm that made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The Pelican Brief (1993)
Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, and Sam Shepard star in this film about a young law student’s theory about the recent deaths of two Supreme Court justices embroils her in a web of corruption.
My Cousin Vinny follows a recently barred New York attorney to the deep south where he is tasked with defending his nephew and his friend.
Liar Liar (1997)
Jim Carrey plays an attorney who cannot tell a lie for 24 hours after his son makes a birthday wish. He tries to keep his composure through a trial and to make sure his family life doesn’t go off the rails.
Legally Blonde (2001)
This film follows sorority girl Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, as she learns to stand up for herself on her journey to go to law school.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Henry Fonda, Lee Cobb, Ed Begley, and Jack Klugman lead this courtroom drama surrounding a jury- nominated for many awards.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Told through the eyes of “Scout,” a feisty six-year-old, this film depicts a trial taking place in the midst of prejudice and injustice in 1932 Alabama. As an aside, the book should be required reading for everyone.
And Justice for All (1979)
Al Pacino plays a hot-shot lawyer looking for justice in a justice system run amok.
Witness for the Prosecution (1958)
Following a massive heart attack, a British barrister is told by his doctor to stop his legal career. However, he returns to the court room to assist a man who’s accused of murdering a wealthy widow.
A Man for all Seasons (1966)
This dramatic depiction of the conflict between Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More won six Oscars.
If you would like to add to the list, please tweet some suggestions to us at @ABAGrassroots!