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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. 

  1. Emily Yu, founder of Yu Family Law, LLC, focuses on helping families who are involved in high conflict contested custody cases or heavily contested divorce matters. Yu believes that how lawyers are portrayed in the media can influence people’s perception of both the legal process, the lawyer, and the setting of a courtroom. Yu says that Hollywood is trying to portray the wow-factor on screen, and how that isn’t usually how the legal process is. “We have all seen that Hollywood moment where someone comes rushing into a courtroom to show a newly discovered piece of evidence that completely changes the outcome of a case. This does not happen in real life.  It is not because a lawyer is not witty or clever enough to have that evidence but,simply put, our laws do not allow for this type of ambush or surprise. Generally, if a piece of evidence was not previously disclosed in the case, it is not allowed to be used in court at all.
  1. Andrew M. Lloyd, Senior Partner/Owner of Lloyd & Associates, PLLC., whose firm focuses on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and everything in between, states that he believes Hollywood doesn’t always show the day to day law practice properly, and how most of the time things are uneventful. Lloyd explains that CSI is more closely related to how a normal day might look in criminal law. “There is no “crime lab in the sky” that handles criminal matters like CSI, nor are trials exciting and filled with passion. The day to day can be quite boring and very fact-specific and detail-oriented. Most of the drama occurs outside of the courtroom, which leads people to hire me to clean up the mess and temper the flames.”
  1. Ronda Haynes, founder of the Law Office of Ronda S Haynes, PLLC, focuses on Family Law, Estate Planning, Probate, helping families with divorce and custody issues, adoptions and name changes, as well as planning for their disability and eventual death. Haynes states that Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers can affect the people’s view, and sometimes the young aspiring lawyers. She explains that young lawyers get into the business expecting the drama, and that clients sometimes have the same expectations, only to be let down by how court cases are actually handled. “The reality is far from the Hollywood version. Yes it is a wonderful feeling when you can ‘win’ but most cases are not a win. Many cases settle out of court behind the scenes and the court scenes are not nearly as dramatic. Don’t get me wrong – I love being an attorney, but it isn’t what you see on television.”
  1. Zeke Fortenberry, founder of Fortenberry Firm PLLC, represents victims of drunk driving crashes, sexual assault survivors, and wrongful death cases. Fortenberry’s firm strives to give victims a voice to help recover damages to compensate for what they’ve endured. Fortenberry says that Hollywood has a lot of the correct aspects of being a lawyer being portrayed on the actual screen, but that the personality is all wrong. Sometimes, the media portrays lawyers as apathetic, Fortenberry explains how this isn’t the case for him. “The truth is, most of the time when someone is seeing a lawyer it is because they are in need of help.  I make sure that I listen to my clients and extend compassion and empathy for what they have gone through. The personal relationship between lawyer and client makes a huge difference, and Hollywood fails to show that.”

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 company.

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Kotton Grammer

Kotton Grammer is the founder of several Agencies that specializes in Public Relations and Digital Marketing. Headquartered in Miami, FL.