As I take my first step into the rabbit hole that is law school I feel the need to celebrate. Classic me, right, celebrating another event in my life. Woo hoo.
But this is important stuff that deserves to be celebrated. Because right now it’s not necessarily about grades, or jobs, or having the right answer at the right time. Those things are great but they aren’t the pillars of success. Success, for me, is being on this path to begin with. A path I’ve long dreamed of.
And it is also totally scary. Gut writhing like a pit full of snakes scary. So to focus on something positive I thought I’d share with you a list. A list of my favorite law movies.
First, let’s all understand and agree that I’m not endorsing these movies as being actual representations of law, law school, or the legal profession. And these movies aren’t the reason I’m going to law school. But these movies are fun and I like to watch them so I thought I’d share.
Here, in reverse order, are my top 10 favorite movies about the law:
10. Miracle on 34th street – In which cynical society tries to sink their claws into the lovable Santa character. I like the black and white version. We used to watch this every year when I was a kid.
9. Legally Blonde – Had to make the list because whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously deranged. This movie struck a chord with me and I’ve loved it ever since.
8. My Cousin Vinny – I remember watching this movie as a kid and laughing my butt off. It’s a lighthearted, fun, look at the legal system and the people who are a part of it.
7. Philadelphia – Ugh, a tear jerker. This is a tragic tale about overcoming prejudice. Just thinking about it now gets me a little choked up. Such a good movie.
6. A Few Good Men – You literally cannot have a list of movies about the law and not include A Few Good Men. I like that it involves the Jag Corps. I think it’s the only military law movie I’ve seen. Anyway, it’s fantastic. Some of my favorite scenes are when the legal team is brainstorming or running hypos. Well, and the scene where Tom Cruise breaks Jack Nicholson….who doesn’t love that scene?
5. The Firm – Based on John Grisham’s second novel (first to hit list btw!). Another Tom Cruise movie - which is odd for me because overall I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan.
Anyway. The Firm is one of my favorites because it includes some wonderful multidimensional characters. People who are good who do bad things and bad people who do good things. Love that mix. But best of all is the representation of creative problem solving. This attorney is between a rock and a hard place until he discovers an off the wall way to bring about justice without violating his principles. Problems and people are not always black and white (in fact, matters of law – and life- rarely are) and this movie operates in the gray space. I adore that.
4. Erin Brockovich – Who doesn’t love this movie? There is a terrible villain and a heroine with a heart of gold. For me, what makes this movie shine is Erin’s lack of formal legal education. She’s smart, ambitious, and willing to get her hands dirty. She’s the type of girl you want on your team any day.
3. A Time to Kill – John Grisham’s first novel but fourth movie adaptation. This story stuck with me because there are people who are bad and then there are people who do bad things and they are not always one and the same. This movie spends a lot of time focusing on that issue. It’s well cast (gotta love Sandra Bullock’s character) and a nail-bitter.
2. Pelican Brief – Another Grisham novel. This was a close one for me. Almost tied for first place. I love this movie so much that I refer to it as one of my ‘sick girl movies.’ Meaning I own in on DVD and watch it when I’m sick. It’s so freaking good. Even the music is outstanding. Everything about this movie is fantastic.
1. The Client – Yes, my favorite law movie is The Client, based on…you guessed it….a John Grisham novel. This movie stars Susan Sarandon and she hits it out of the park in this one. I think what I liked most about this story (besides the excellent casting) is how accessible lawyers can be to people in need. Here we have a kid without money, from a family with no money, who needs legal help and protection. Also, we have a struggling lawyer who desperately needs money but agrees to help the kid anyway. I don’t remember if she ever even gets paid for helping him. That element of the story really spoke to me.
Now, don’t get carried away. I’m not a total dreamer. I know money makes the world go round and not ever case can be pro bono.
But looking back at my list it seems all good lawyer stories share one thing – they start with a lawyer who is a good person deep down.
That's what I enjoy in a good law movie. Have you seen any of these films? What did you think?