Best lawyer movies

You can’t have a good story without drama, conflict, and high-stakes. A movie set in the courtroom is the perfect location to achieve these elements. Courtroom dramas may sometimes lack violence or explosions, but they make up for it with dialogue and drama. Creating a good film that is dialogue-based is no easy feat. A writer has to incorporate all of the dramatic themes through the lines that the actors speak. Law and order is a part of life, for better or for worse. Justice is the fabric of our society and without it, we couldn’t function. Throughout the years, Hollywood has produced several films based around lawyers, judges, and courtrooms.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to appreciate a good courtroom drama. The circumstances and conflict that happens in a courtroom can be just as exciting as a high-stakes action film. Acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has been writing lawyer films for decades and has given us riveting stories like A Few Good Men and The Trial Of The Chicago 7. Many of the courtroom films we see are based on true stories that have shaped our society and told accounts of brave people fighting for justice. Although justice might not always prevail, it is up to our lawyers and judges to use the law to fight for the rights of individuals. In our current society, we see everyday the importance of civil rights and justice. Here are the best lawyer films of all time.

10 The Lincoln Lawyer


Matthew McConaughey plays Mick Haller, a defense attorney who works out of the back of his Lincoln. After a wealthy man named Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillip) is accused of assault, he seeks help from Haller to prove his innocence. This is an underrated lawyer film that is carried by McConaughey’s charming performance. The cast also included William H. Macy and Marisa Tomei.

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9 My Cousin Vinny

20th Century Studios

My Cousin Vinny is a great example of how a lawyer film can be turned into a comedy. Joe Pesci plays Vinny Gambini, an inexperienced, unconvential attorny from New York who helps his cousin Bill (Ralph Macchio), after he is wrongly convicted for a murder. Vinny doesn’t fit in well in the small Southern town, and he is constantly being reprimanded by Judge Haller (Fred Gwyenne). Marisa Tomei would go on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her fantastic performance.

8 Erin Brockovich

Universal Pictures

Steven Soderbergh directed the true story of the single mother turned legal assistant who brings down a California power company that had been polluting the town’s water supply. Julia Roberts shines in the lead role and won an Oscar for Best Actress. Brockovich was an important figure and she is still fighting for the rights of others to this day. The film is a true underdog story that is both inspirational and empowering.

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7 Amistad

DreamWorks Pictures

This 1997 film directed by Steven Spielberg tells the story of a United States attorney, Roger Sherman Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), who must learn to communicate with a group of slaves so he can prove their freedom. The film is based on true accounts and features a fantastic cast including Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, and Djimon Hounsou. The triumphant film is a great example of how courts can change the world.

6 The Firm

Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise stars in this courtroom drama from acclaimed filmmaker Sydney Pollack. The story follows Mitch McDeere (Cruise), a young lawyer who joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that the firm is filled with corruption. It is a fantastic lawyer film that tackles moral dilemmas and being on the right side of justice. The film also includes Gene Hackman, Holly Hunter, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.

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5 To Kill A Mockingbird


Robert Mulligan directed the adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved novel. Gregory Peck gives a career-defining performance as Atticus Finch. The film was made in 1962 and tells the story of Finch as he defends an African-American man (Brock Peters) in Depression-era Alabama, while also incorporating those values to his children. The story is a case study of morals and civil rights. It was a landmark film that opened the world’s eyes to the importance of fighting against racial prejudice.

4 Kramer Vs. Kramer

Columbia Pictures

Kramer Vs. Kramer is one of the greatest showcases of talent in cinematic history. The story follows Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) in a custody battle with his wife (Meryl Streep) over their young son Billy (Justin Henry). The heart of the story is the transformation of Ted as he has to learn to balance his work and caring for his son after his wife leaves him. The heartbreaking film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

3 12 Angry Men

Orion-Nova Productions

Acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet directed this classic film that follows twelve jurors attempting to reach the verdict in a murder trial. The film is a showcase of talent in all the attributes of filmmaking. The acting, direction, and cinematography are all top notch in this riveting drama. For a movie to engage the audience from beginning to end, while taking place in a single room, is no easy feat. 12 Angry Men was nominated for three Oscars and takes the #5 spot in IMDB’s top 250 movies of all time.

2 Philadelphia

TriStar Pictures

Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia was a landmark film that showcased the brutality of AIDS with Tom Hanks in the leading role. Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a homosexual attorney with AIDS, who is suing a prestigous law firm for firing him under illegal circumstances. Denzel Washington plays his attorney, Joe Miller, and the two fight for justice in this thought-provoking film. Jonathan Demme’s direction shines throughout the film and the performances are unforgettable.

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1 A Few Good Men

Columbia Pictures

Aaronn Sorkin’s acclaimed screenplay worked brilliantly on the big screen. The film follows Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) as he defends two Marines who are accused of murder, claiming that they were under orders. A Few Good Men showcases brilliant performances and memorable lines from start to finish. The all-star cast also includes Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, and Demi Moore.

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