Law is a fascinating study field. It brings out true passion and power of conviction among its exponents, often glorifying (even unglorifying) them per situation. Television shows, social media, literature, and even films have played their fair share in depicting this profession’s good, bad, and ugly for decades (with the climax scene often played out inside a courtroom). While these stories may be fiction, they depict numerous social, political, and ethical situations through make-believe scenes. One may also state that such cinematic experiences don’t exhibit real-legal scenarios; they do, however, present immense possibilities to educate aspiring law students about certain relatable societal scenarios.
Here’s a list of a few good law flicks you must watch. The list comprises something for every law apprentice. Of course, if you’re struggling to make time for watching, secure law dissertation writing service from practicing lawyers to end your assignment writing troubles.
- The Paper Chase (1973)
Inspired by the popular 1971 novel, ‘The Paper Chase,’‘ it tells the tale of a first-year law student at Harvard Law School. The movie portrays James T. Hart, who has a law course contract with Prof. Kingfield, and his experiences with his contract law instructor and the professor’s daughter.
Later on, Houseman, who played the Prof, won the best supporting actor award. If you’re a law student, add to the must-watch list! It’s quite thought-provoking and shares several valuable life lessons for students (like yourself) with big dreams and searching for the best country to study law.
- On the Basis of Sex (2018)
It is a legal drama about the early life and law student days of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman (ever) to become the USA’s Supreme Court Associate Justice. The movie is mainly a docudrama that depicts Ruth’s stint as a law student during the 1950s. Having to work and prove herself twice as hard, Ruth makes her presence felt amidst the male-dominated environment. Her untimely and unexpected issues at home make her situation worse.
In the second period, 1970, Ruth, wanting to secure a job at a law firm, faces every time. The reason is her being a woman, despite her topping her class. She, instead, finds herself teaching law – with a specialization on sex at Rutgers. The film beautifully depicts the various challenges and frequent unequal treatment Ruth faces. Nevertheless, she perseveres!
The movie contains many teachings and harsh truths about life that many law students constantly face at some point.
- Murder in The First (1995)
An eager and principled law student turned lawyer, James Stamphill, gets the impossible task of defending an Alcatraz prisoner charged with the murder of a fellow inmate. In the stacked courthouse, the young defendant argues that the prisoner had a co-conspirator. He reveals the true murderer is Alcatraz itself!
Dealing with strong themes like solitary confinement, the penal system, the 1940s era, inmates, rookie defendants, and courtroom drama, it’s a sheer cinematic delight for budding law students.
- Conviction (2010)
Another inspiring film that every law student must watch is this Tony Goldwyn Crime/Drama flick. It features an HS drop-out who, for almost 2 decades, has been a working mother, putting herself in law school to defend her brother wrongfully accused of murder. Viewers see her tireless efforts to beat the criminal justice system and overturn her brother’s unjust conviction, who earlier had exhausted all his possibilities to appeal for his case through other public defendants.
It also reveals how far a person is willing to go to protect the ones they love and fight for their family against all odds. Aspiring law apprentices can take heart and motivation never to doubt their faith in the truth and stand firm against everyone in the situation demanding severe punishment. The movie is relatable, full of life, and powerful emotions in several scenes.
- Erin Brockovich (2000)
Julia Roberts delivers another stellar performance as an unemployed single mother (also a law student by education) looks to secure the role of a law assistant. But things aren’t as welcoming to her as expected. No one takes her seriously due to her earthy mannerisms and trashy clothing.
However, things drastically change when she investigates a real-estate case concerning the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. As Erin Brockovich keeps digging deeper, disturbing secrets become known, including how media shapes toxic policies. She and her law firm get involved in among the biggest cases in American lawsuit history.
The film is one of the best law-themed flicks, depicting themes of water pollution, corporate crime, lawsuits, societal unacceptance, and environmental issues.
- The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
One exceptional law student turned adept Florida advocate (who hasn’t lost a case to date) gets a job at a top law firm in New York City. With a top-gun boss and possibly the biggest opportunity of his career, Kevin Lomax sinks deeper into a case. At the same time, his wife starts getting sick and begins witnessing demonic/supernatural apparitions.
The plot thickens when Kevin’s Boss, John Milton, always seems aware of what’s disturbing Kevin and has a solution to every problem.
It is considered one of the best law films, with outstanding performances by Keanu Reeves (as Kevin Lomax) and Charlize Theron (as Mary Ann Lomax). You’re in for a treat if you haven’t seen this lawyer-themed flick.
- My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Two friends from New York University received scholarships from ULCA. They drive to Alabama and make a grocery store pit-stop for snacks. However, things take a drastic turn as they are both arrested. Initially, both thought it was for shoplifting, but later came to realize it was for something way worse- murder. Unfortunately, the two friends, Stanley and Bill, have no money to afford a big-shot lawyer. So, they turn to familial ties and contact their cousin Vinny (Vincent Laguardia Gambini), an unimpressionable law student turned inexperienced lawyer who hasn’t been on a serious trial before.
Yet Vinny strives to defend his cousins against an unbending judge, inconsiderate locals, and a loud-mouthed fiancé to establish their innocence against the convicted murder charges. The movie, although a comic crime flick, exhibits the determination of a family member to save his cousins against severe legal punishment despite facing mockery and questions about his character.
- Accused (2014)
Paula van der Oest’s film is a superb psychological thriller on one of the Netherlands’ most controversial cases about a nurse accused of killing seven babies and as many elderlies. With no one willing to step up for her, a young law student turned District Attorney takes her case to prove everyone wrong. With the plot thickening, evidence comes to light, thus indicating that the nurse was telling the truth after all.
The film has a dark and mature theme that demonstrates how a strong advocate defends his client against all accusations, even when they initially appear true. So, if you’re a law student, this crime/law/thriller is for you.
- Fracture (2007)
A law student turned attorney who strives to climb the success ladder comes across a meticulously manipulative opponent he’s prosecuting. Willy Beachum, the young hotspot soon to join a fancy and high-paying law firm, is suggested by everyone around that it’s an open-shut case. Of course, Ted Crawford, the murderer of his wife, witnesses Beachum’s naivety. What happens then is a clockwork of disturbing crimes that leave watches in complete astonishment.
From court trials, murder, entrapment, police investigation, and many other mature themes, this Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins movie is a marvelous production and a worthy watch for all law learners.
- The Reader (2008)
This war/crime movie deports us to the post-WWII Germany Era. A young law student, Michael Berg, gets a blast from the past when former lover Hanna (a woman twice his age) re-emerges. Hanna helped Michael recover from scarlet fever. The two quickly come close and engage in a secret, intimate affair. However, despite their passionate feelings, Hanna disappears mysteriously one day, leaving Michael heartbroken and bewildered. After 8 years, Michael, a law student seeing the Nazi crime trials, is shocked to find Hanna return, but as a defendant in court.
The movie is among the best films around and tells a gripping tale about reconciliation and truth and how one generation must come to terms with the sins of another.
- The Judge (2014)
A law student now turned successful DA in Chicago, Hank Palmer, is on the verge of getting a divorce. But then, when speaking to his brother, Hank learns of his mother’s demise. He returns to his childhood house for the funeral but soon finds himself in a position to defend his father- the local town’s Judge who’s suspected of his wife’s murder.
Hank must stand firm as his father’s defendant in court to uncover the truth. In doing so, he discovers his dysfunctional family’s mysteries and hurdles and revives their lost love.
Aspiring lawyers get a serious lesson: always defend your honor and your family- even if you don’t see eye to eye with them. In times of crisis, every family is tested, and only a family member can defy the odds and protect the rest.
THERE YOU HAVE IT – Some of the greatest movies about law students and their challenging endeavors that every law-leaner must watch. These films teach so many important lessons while remaining entertaining, too.
Taylor is a freelance SEO copywriter and blogger. His areas of expertise include technology, pop culture, and marketing.