Hollywood loves lawyers. From the big screen to the small screen, we highlight some of our favorite litigators from Tinsel Town.
1. Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
Gregory Peck won an Oscar in this 1962 adaptation of the great American novel. Finch, a lawyer known for his unyielding sense of justice, fights to defend Tom Robinson, an African American accused of murder in the antebellum south. Driven by his steadfast rectitude, he defends his client to the best of his ability, in spite of the racial constraints of his time. Though Finch has recently come under heavy fire, he remains one of the most influential characters of the 20th century – and is even a source of serious legal discourse.
2. Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men
This 1992 military courtroom drama places Tom Cruise, a green military court martial, in the position of defending two Marines accused of killing a colleague. Known for his reputation as a pleas bargainer, Kaffee decides to take the case to court after uncovering inconsistencies in testimony during investigation. Made famous by the line, “you can’t handle the truth,” A Few Good Men is the story of the intricate chain of command and what it means to be a soldier.
3. Joe Miller, Philadelphia
Denzel Washington portrays a personal injury lawyer in this 1993 drama, one of the first mainstream films to address the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Tom Hanks plays the plaintiff, who is a high-ranking corporate lawyer who loses his job after a colleague recognizes a lesion on his forehead consistent with a complication from AIDS. Miller, a germophobe, at first declines Hanks’ case for fear of contracting the disease. Eventually, Miller overcomes his fear and takes on the firm that wrongfully terminated his client. A tale of discrimination and overcoming fear of the unknown to deliver justice, Philadelphia was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
4. Michael Clayton
George Clooney shows his cynical side in this 2007 film about the darker side of agribusiness. Clayton, deemed a “fixer” because of his knowledge of legal loopholes, is brought in to defend a class action lawsuit against U-North, a large agricultural conglomerate. Clooney is pulled into a web of deceit as he struggles to find the answers to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the previous lawyer on the case. Confronted with the evidence that U-North was knowingly using a carcinogenic agent on its crops and battling his own personal demons, Clayton has to decide whether or not he should make a stand.
5. Jack McCoy, Law and Order
Portrayed by Sam Waterson, McCoy is one of the longest running lawyers to grace the small screen. So popular that his character was named a “Living Landmark” by the New York Land Conservancy, McCoy is known for his tendency to go rogue. A passionate fighter for justice, McCoy has been found in contempt of court and accused of mocking a witness to achieve his ends.
6. Saul Goodman, Breaking Bad
From his cheesy tagline “Better Call Saul” to his bench ads, Bob Odenkirk’s tongue-in-cheek portrayal of criminal lawyer Saul Goodman makes him a somewhat comic element in the otherwise dark AMC series Breaking Bad. As an attorney for Walter White, Goodman is often portrayed as a flamboyant, over-the-top lawyer who is hard to take seriously. Behind the charade, Goodman is actually a highly competent litigator who uses legal loopholes to his advantage to secure favorable outcomes for his clients.
Did we give you something new to watch this weekend? Grab some popcorn and fire up Netflix, because these are performances you will not want to miss.