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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. Boë Bowen, founder of The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, focuses on providing high quality legal assistance in family law, estate planning, guardianship, probate, personal injury, and civil litigation. Bowen states that Hollywood impacts the public’s view on the legal profession, but not in a positive way. “Hollywood does not show all the work that it takes to prepare for a contested hearing or trial.  Legal research and preparation is not exciting.  It is time consuming, tedious, fact intensive, and costly.  Also, a case is never going to be done within 30 or an hour.  Lawsuits take years to complete and to do it right takes thousands of hours of work and dedication.”

2. Aubrey L. Morgan, founder of The Law Office of Aubrey L. Morgan, PLLC, has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a 2020 Texas Rising Star for her exclusive practice in family law litigation. Morgan says, in her experience, Hollywood has impacted how people view the legal system and the process in which it all unfolds. “What I have seen more often in my career is that Hollywood does seem to influence how people view the legal system and its processes. For example, while Tom Cruise may have been able to get Jack Nicholson to crack on the stand in A Few Good Men, these scenes don’t generally play out in real courts every day. And while a deposition in Suits may last a matter of minutes, that’s generally not factually correct, either.”

3. Stefanie Collins, founder of Stefanie Collins Attorney at Law, passionately focuses on defending the LGBTQIA+ community when the individuals are accused by the government of crimes, which could result in unjust bias based on their identities. Collins states that trials are not as glamorous as seen on the big screens, and in most cases the protocol is not always accurate. “it appears there is a perception that the practice of law is full of dramatic and glamorous make or break moments.  Trying cases is not in reality anything like what you see in Perry Mason.  Witnesses don’t crack on the stand under cross and admit that they, and not your client, committed the murder.  I’ve had many conversations with clients in which I had to explain that it is a rare witness who can be forced to explicitly admit he is lying; no, it is not at all likely that I can ‘force them to say it when they testify.’”

4. Geoff Kunkler, attorney at Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP, focuses on trusts and estate planning, as well as business succession and charitable planning. Kunkler says people who have never had any experience or interactions with lawyers have a higher chance of abstaining an opinion based on movies or TV series, but he has found humour in it as well. “If someone has never dealt with an attorney or a law firm their perception can certainly be skewed by Hollywood and the media, as well as some of the less favorable lawyer jokes. As an estate planning attorney, I personally thought it was hilarious in Better Call Saul when he started marketing at nursing homes with the slogan ‘Need a Will? Call McGill!’”

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.