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by Vault Education Editors | January 21, 2010


Growing up, I knew never to watch a movie that included any sort of courtroom scene with my mother. As a lawyer, she couldn't stop herself from picking apart each inaccurate legal term or procedure the minute the misstep occurred on screen. "You can't do that," she whispered emphatically during a climactic moment in The Rainmaker before proceeding to describe, in detail, how not to go about calling witnesses. Though my mother may not enjoy legal movies (and successfully ruined the genre for yours truly), some argue that they offer a valuable lesson for anyone considering a career in the law.

The Paper Chase In the January 2010 National Jurist Magazine, Professor Cynthia Bond of The John Marshall Law School (Chicago) argues that legal films provide law students with a sense of perspective of the law in society at large. To give John Marshall students that perspective, she teaches a course called Images of Law in Film. So what films should lawyer hopefuls watch? National Jurist surveyed law professors from across the country to find the Top 20 movies law students should see before starting to practice.

Top 20 Must-See Legal Movies

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Twelve Angry Men
  3. Anatomy of a Murder
  4. Kramer vs. Kramer
  5. Michael Clayton
  6. The Accused
  7. The Verdict
  8. Inherit the Wind
  9. The Paper Chase (ed., A movie about law school competition, this is a must-see for before you start your law school apps!)
  10. Erin Brockovich
  11. The Thin Blue Line
  12. Murder in the First
  13. ...And Justice for All
  14. Presumed Innocent
  15. Class Action
  16. A Few Good Men
  17. The Firm
  18. My Cousin Vinny
  19. A Time to Kill
  20. North Country


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