The 4 Best Law-related Movies That All Young Lawyers Should Watch

BY Jason Bland

Beat movies for young lawyers
  • We asked legal professionals about their favorite law-related movies.
  • Here are the 4 movies that every young lawyer should watch.

LISTEN

We asked legal professionals from various fields to share their favorite law-related movies and the valuable lessons young lawyers can learn from them.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

In the deeply segregated town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1930s, "To Kill a Mockingbird" tells the poignant tale of Scout Finch, a young girl caught in the complex web of racial injustice and moral dilemmas. As her father, Atticus Finch, a principled lawyer, defends an innocent black man falsely accused of rape, Scout's innocent perspective unravels the layers of prejudice and bigotry that plague her community. Through the eyes of Scout, this timeless coming-of-age story explores the power of empathy, the enduring impact of childhood experiences, and the indomitable spirit that can arise from a single act of courage.

Max Schwartzapfel

"To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of the hallmark law movies and novels for the ages. Young lawyers can learn a multitude from the central character and lawyer, Atticus Finch, including compassion, bravery, and fortitude. To do what Finch did in that era of time took incredible courage, and his actions truly inspire me." - Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers


Robert Reder, of Blythe Grace PLLC, also believes To Kill a Mockingbird is a must-watch for young lawyers. "Here are a few lessons young lawyers could learn from it:

Integrity and Moral Courage: Finch exemplifies unwavering integrity and moral courage. He stands up for what is right, even when it is difficult or unpopular. This serves as a reminder that lawyers should always strive to uphold ethical standards and fight for justice, even in the face of adversity.

Empathy and Understanding: Finch emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding towards others, regardless of their social standing or background. Developing the ability to see the world through the eyes of others can greatly enhance a lawyer's ability to advocate for their clients effectively.

The Power of Persuasion: Finch's closing argument is a masterclass in persuasive speaking. Young lawyers can learn the art of crafting a compelling argument, using evidence effectively, and appealing to the emotions and intellect of the audience to make a lasting impact.

Challenging Prejudice and Bias: The movie highlights the pervasive influence of prejudice and bias within society. It reminds young lawyers to be vigilant about combating prejudice and to treat all individuals with fairness and equality, regardless of race, gender, or social background.

Importance of Legal Ethics: Throughout the film, Finch demonstrates a deep respect for the rule of law and the principles of justice. Young lawyers can learn the importance of maintaining high ethical standards, honoring attorney-client privilege, and conducting themselves with professionalism."


12 Angry Men (1957)

Released in 1957 and with a gripping runtime of 96 minutes, "12 Angry Men" stands as a cinematic masterpiece that delves deep into the power of human deliberation. Set entirely within the confines of a claustrophobic jury room, the film follows the intense and transformative deliberations of twelve diverse jurors as they determine the fate of a young man accused of murder. Through riveting performances and razor-sharp dialogue, the movie unravels the layers of prejudice, personal biases, and systemic flaws within the justice system while shining a piercing light on the capacity for compassion, reason, and the relentless pursuit of truth.

Timothy Allen

"12 Angry Men follows a jury as they deliberate on the fate of a young man convicted of murder. As the jury initially trends toward a guilty verdict, Henry Fonda's character persuasively raises doubts about the case, leading to heated debates and an examination of personal biases. 

This film, I believe, exemplifies the power of persuasion and effective argumentation. Through meticulous analysis of the evidence and logical argumentation, the juror challenges preconceived notions and influences his fellow jurors. 

Young attorneys can learn the significance of comprehensive preparation, critical thinking, and persuasive communication. In addition, the film emphasizes the importance of maintaining an open mind, as the juror's willingness to question presumptions ultimately results in a fair verdict." - Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting


A Few Good Men (1992)

Released in 1992 and with a runtime of 138 minutes, "A Few Good Men" is a riveting courtroom drama that explores the dark underbelly of the military justice system. When two Marines are accused of the murder of a fellow soldier, a young and ambitious Navy lawyer is assigned to defend them. As he delves deeper into the case, he discovers a web of corruption, cover-ups, and the dangerous code of honor that binds the Marines together. With stellar performances and a gripping script, the film navigates themes of loyalty, honor, and the delicate balance between obeying orders and questioning authority. "A Few Good Men" stands as a thought-provoking examination of the moral gray areas that exist within the rigid framework of military discipline.

Cindi Keller

"A Few Good Men portrays a military lawyer, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, as he defends two marines accused of murdering a fellow soldier. The film explores the complexities of military justice, loyalty, and authority abuse in the armed forces. 

This film also emphasizes the importance of comprehensive investigation and dogged pursuit of the truth. Lieutenant Kaffee's determination to uncover the hidden facts drives the plot, underlining the significance of completing extensive research and uncovering all relevant information. 

We can also see the importance of courtroom strategy, as Kaffee employs inventive methods to uncover the truth. Young lawyers can learn the value of strategic thinking and adaptability when constructing their cases and facing formidable opponents." - Cindi Keller, Communications Coordinator, The Criminal Defense Firm


Philidelphia (1993)

Released in 1993 and with a runtime of 125 minutes, "Philadelphia" is a profoundly moving drama that tackles the AIDS crisis and the fight against discrimination. Tom Hanks delivers an outstanding performance as Andrew Beckett, a talented lawyer who is wrongfully terminated after his employer discovers he is living with HIV/AIDS. Determined to seek justice, Beckett teams up with an unlikely ally, played by Denzel Washington, as they navigate a legal battle that transcends the courtroom, challenging societal prejudices and misconceptions about the disease. With a powerful script, heartfelt performances, and a poignant score by Bruce Springsteen, "Philadelphia" stands as a landmark film that brings awareness to the human rights struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community and serves as a testament to the power of compassion, acceptance and the fight for equality.

Tiffany Hafler

"Philidelphia examines prejudice, homophobia, and the significance of standing up for justice. It also highlights the importance of empathy and compassion in the legal profession. As Andrew's attorney, Joe Miller confronts his own prejudices and learns about the realities of living with HIV, he transforms into a formidable advocate for his client. 

Young attorneys can learn the significance of understanding their clients' experiences, treating them with respect, and fighting discrimination. In addition, the film sheds light on the difficulties marginalized communities face within the legal system, encouraging young attorneys to actively work towards a more inclusive and equal society." - Tiffany Hafler, Marketing Coordinator, Blockchain Lawyer


We picked the four most popular movies that came up in our survey. What was surprising is that the most modern film on the list is 30 years old (Philidelphia) and the oldest film was made 66 years ago (12 Angry Men), making all of them timeless classics.

Jason Bland

Jason Bland is a Co-Founder of Custom Legal Marketing and a regular contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine. He focuses on strategies for law firms in highly competitive markets. He's a contributor on Forbes.com, is a member of the Forbes Agency Council, Young Entrepreneurs Council, and has been quoted in Inc. Magazine, Business Journals, Above the Law, and many other publications.

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