Think back for a moment. Can you recollect your first encounter with the term “lawyer”? For many of us, it was more than likely in a television series or film. Maybe you can vaguely picture your parents watching shows like Matlock, or possibly you remember reading or watching To Kill a Mockingbird in school, cheering on Atticus Finch. But honestly, what is the attraction of films depicting law? Could it be the desire to have justice served? The hope that we can depend on the legal system to repair the fallible, and create the integrity amongst society that we deserve? Whatever it may be, Hollywood has long used the cinematic courtroom as a method to make social and political statements or manipulate public perception, and oftentimes lawyers are portrayed in an unrealistic light.
Is the public perception of lawyers truly jaded by the big screen? For this segment, Werewolf Media has reached out to some of the nation’s most decorated, and respected attorneys and law firms on their opinions about the portrayal of lawyers in Hollywood.
- Robert Morrin, founder of Morrin Law Office, is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping clients get the medical care they need, and the medical bills paid after they have been in a motor vehicle accident. When asked rather or not Morrin thought that the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession, he stated: “The Hollywood portrayal of lawyers absolutely confuses the public about what the practice of law looks like on a typical day. It tends to focus only on the litigation aspect and there always seems to be a very dramatic surprise during the jury trial. While surprises certainly do occur from time to time, distinguished litigators have already played out most of the twists and turns in their head to avoid most dramatic surprises that make movies like A Few Good Men and My Cousin Vinny so exciting! What Hollywood rarely shows are the plethora of letters we attorneys write, the hours of research good attorneys put into cases, and the many conversations we have with our clients, witnesses, and experts to nail the case down before we even get to the jury trial. It's not very sexy to show the rest of the hard work that good attorneys put into the lives of their clients behind the scenes.”
- Harold Christopher, founder of Waller Law Office PLLC, is a criminal defense trial attorney, primarily focusing on federal work and CPS defense. When asked if he viewed the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers in a negative light, Christopher responded: “Absolutely. I am an out of the box trial attorney. I have a beard and longer hair than usual. I wear seersuckers in the summer and cowboy boots in the winter. People expect a clean-cut, dark-suited person. That is is not the norm in Corpus Christi Texas.”
- Andrew Finkelstein, managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, helps catastrophically injured people hold corporations accountable for violating safety rules intended to prevent the very injury they caused, as well as forcing insurance companies to make fair settlement offers to their clients. Finkelstein clearly sees the misconceptions that Hollywood’s portrayal brings to his profession. “People only know what they have experienced and since most people have no personal contact with lawyers, they presume the Hollywood portrayal is accurate. At Finkelstein & Partners we understand this and when we present ourselves as the opposite of what is expected, people find it refreshing.”
- Fatima Hassan-Salam, founder of Salam & Associates, P.C., focuses on personal injury law. Hassan-Salam notices the inlfuence the big screen brings to real life. “Hollywood's portrayal of lawyers definitely influences the public view of the legal profession and judicial system. Unfortunately, it perpetuates the negative view of attorneys.”
Although 2020 does appear to be something out of a movie, this is the real world - not a fictitious film set. Despite the often wrong portrayal of lawyers in Hollywood, as a society we have confided in the council and opinions of trusted attorneys since the dawn of this country. Lawmen in almost every area of practice have always played a key role in making sense of unsettling times, and this won’t be changing in the foreseeable future.
Werewolf Media is a Miami based Public Relations agency