Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Favorite Legal Movies

Since I've started teaching, I've been thinking about a few of my favorite legal movies. I often find myself mentally referencing movies and trying to figure out whether there is a way I can incorporate them into my lectures. I think movie clips are great for making information really stick in your head. I remember very clearly when one of my favorite law school professors played a clip from Miracle on 34th St. for a lesson on evidence. That was more than 10 years ago, I may not remember many classroom lessons from back then, but I remember that.

So here are some of my favorite legal movies. What are some of yours? Am I missing any good ones?

Legal Comedies

Legally Blonde - Even though it's a comedy, there are a few valuable legal lessons. I played this clip from Legally Blonde for my Criminal Justice students for a lesson on Mala in Se crimes versus Mala Prohibita crimes.

My Cousin Vinny - I really wanted to play the clip from this movie in which Vinny first learns about discovery for my lesson on discovery, but I couldn't find it on YouTube. 

Legal Classics

To Kill A Mockingbird - The classic of all classics and every criminal defense attorney's eternal favorite.

The Verdict - Surprisingly, not a criminal movie, but Paul Newman is amazing as a down-on-his-luck lawyer fighting to do the right thing. As with most of these movies, it shows the importance of a good investigation outweighs almost anything you can do in court.

A Few Good Men - No, I don't think it's too soon to count this movie as a classic. It's actually hard to believe that this movie is over 20 years old now. Before Tom Cruise met Katie Holmes, he presented one of the best cross-examinations in movie history.

The Importance of Good Environmental Lawyers (and Paralegals)

Erin Brockovich - The power of a single mom paralegal fighting the power company and groundwater contamination. What could be more inspiring to paralegal students?

A Civil Action - Loosely based on Anderson v. Cryovac, this takes place in Massachusetts and also involves groundwater contamination and leukemia and the fight for justice for local residents.

Legal Documentaries

Hot Coffee - One of my favorite recent documentaries, I find myself referencing this movie often to my students and I plan to play it for them in our last class after they finish the final exam. As the title implies, this movie deals with the truth behind of Liebeck v. McDonald's but also deals with tort reform in general including the areas of medical malpractice and binding arbitration clauses.

Murder on a Sunday Morning - A 2001 documentary perfect for my Criminal Justice students. This Academy Award winner deals with the case of a 15 year old boy wrongly accused of murder in Jacksonville, Florida.

1 comment:

  1. You've already touched on two of my favorites: To Kill a Mockingbird and A Few Good Men, but I think my #1 pick is 12 Angry Men. Also, I like The Firm (and the John Grisham book on which the movie is based is a fast, fun read).