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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 integrity amongst a 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. Kyle Hoelscher, founder of Law Office of Kyle Hoelscher, is a criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hoelscher fiercely fights for the upholding of the constitution against government overreach. When asked about the jaded portrayal of lawyers in Hollywood, Hoelscher states “I think every profession suffers from Hollywood portrayal.  Hollywood is rarely looking for accuracy, they are looking for characters.  So, certain characteristics get assigned to lawyers that may occur occasionally, but not regularly.  Top three things they get wrong – how much money changes hands in lawyering, the prevalence of the shady lawyers, and court procedure.  It’s comical when a lawyer swoops in and files a “motion for discovery.”  That’s filed in every single case, couldn’t they consult with an attorney for a second regarding dumb lines like that?”
  1. James E. Ostenson, founder of Ostenson Law, focuses on the area of estate planning. Ostenson takes pride in decades of successful law practice, as well as giving all of his clients peace of mind. Ostenson doesn’t agree with the portrayal of his profession in Hollywood, nor does he see any of the lawyers as heroic people. “I did not go into law because I admired most attorneys.  I went into law to help folks, not to complicate their lives.  I would see Matlock as more of a role model for me than the attorneys on “Suits.”
  1. Chris Hanslik, Firm Chairman of BoyarMiller, is a Houston-based law firm that serves as a strategic partner for organizations across the country and around the globe. Since 1990, BoyarMiller has been providing practical and smart business solutions from their business and litigation practice groups. Hanslik points out what the big screen tends to miss when portraying attorneys. “Hollywood lawyers are often incorrectly portrayed as overly contentious courtroom lawyers or as someone covering up a wrongdoing to protect their client.  What the big screens miss is how we help protect and grow your business and partner with you to think strategically about ways to proactively prepare your business for an opportunity. It also glosses over the hard work that it takes to truly deliver exceptional results for a client.  In the movies, the first scene is uncovering a problem, usually followed by being in trial minutes later. In the real world it takes much more time and diligence to get to the outcomes.”
  1. Melody Fox, managing partner of Stein and Fox LLC, is a firm that focuses on advocating for the injured due to the negligence of another. Most of the Stein and Fox LLC practice stems from auto accident cases, also handling premises liability as well and other nuanced areas. Fox gives a poetic comment about the portrayal of lawyers in Hollywood. “There are so many different portrayals of attorneys that it is difficult to say. That would be a question really about whether art imitates life or vice versa.” 

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 

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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.