15 Top Legal Movies
Who doesn't love seeing lawyers represented on the silver screen? Here, in no particular order, are some of the most beloved legal movies—including two that feature some of DC's own attorneys.
1) 12 Angry Men
The movie was nominated for Academy Awards in Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay, proving that there's at least one time people don't mind experiencing jury duty.
2) Michael Clayton
George Clooney plays a law firm's "fixer" in a movie with a lot more drama than your average day at a firm. Possibly inspired by his legal turn in this film, Clooney recently married a real-life lawyer, Amal Alamuddin.
3) Defending Your Life
A film that somehow successfully meshes comedy, romance, fantasy and law, starring Albert Brooks as an ad exec who passes away and has to stand trial to defend his life. (The good news: even in the afterlife, you're afforded a defense attorney.) And let's face it, anything with Meryl Streep is a hit.
4) The Verdict
An alcoholic lawyer played by Paul Newman takes a medical malpractice case to court against all odds instead of settling. Then he whips up a great salad dressing (just kidding) and the movie's nominated for five Oscars.
A young Tom Hanks wins an Oscar for his role as a gay senior associate who sues his large law firm, believing it unjustly fired him after learning that he had AIDS. Denzel Washington plays Hanks' lawyer.
6) To Kill A Mockingbird
Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning three, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch, an upstanding lawyer in small-town Alabama who defends an African-American man undeservedly accused of rape.
7) My Cousin Vinny
Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci) may have taken six tries to pass the bar, but neither that nor his maroon velvet suit or lack of trial experience will stop him from shining. Marisa Tomei, who won an Oscar for her role, makes a stellar expert witness.
8) A Few Good Men
The film—featuring Tom Cruise (who still "can't handle the truth!") and Jack Nicholson, JAG Corps, Code Reds, murder accusations and Guantanamo—is full of excitement, but inspired by actual events.
9) The Decade of Discovery
A documentary about e-discovery now screening around the country, featuring Drinker Biddle's Jason R. Baron and late Sedona Conference founder Richard Braman. (More here.)
10) Erin Brockovich
The Julia Roberts picture about a legal clerk who fights for a $333M settlement against a willfully polluting gas and electric company gives a new meaning to the saying "Dress for success."
11) The List
A documentary about the critical yet red tape-filled process of resettling Iraqis whose lives are endangered by their cooperation with the US. It highlights the work of Mayer Brown and assistant director of pro bono Marcia Tavares Maack (right, with director Beth Murphy). The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and we covered Mayer Brown's work more in-depth here.
12) The Informant
Matt Damon plays Mark Whiteacre in a movie about the Archer Daniels Midland lysine price-fixing case. In real life, Whiteacre was represented by former Akin Gump star John Dowd, who also produced the Dowd Report and repped Sen. John McCain. Williams & Connolly lawyers including John Schmidtlein, Bill Murray and Steven Kuney have represented ADM.
13) ...And Justice For All
Filmed nearby in Baltimore, this movie about the functioning of the judicial system shows Al Pacino on (mostly) the right side of the law as the defense lawyer who popularized the notion that "The whole trial is out of order!"
14) Inherit the Wind
Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly all star in this adaptation of a play based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, where a teacher was tried for teaching evolution to high school science students. Clarence Darrow represented Scopes, and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan backed the prosecution.
15) Legally Blonde
A light-hearted—if not entirely relatable—look at law school and practicing law. Who didn't apply to Harvard Law with a video of themselves floating in a bikini through a swimming pool?