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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. Chris Joe, co-founder of Buether Joe & Counselors, LLC, focuses on patent lawsuits, involving high-tech, where the defendant is accused of unlawfully using or selling the inventions of the plaintiff. Joe states that most lawyers’ lives are not as interesting as what is in Hollywood movies and tv shows. Joe also says that Hollywood tends to portray lawyers as untrustworthy, and malicious, which is not true in the majority of situations. “There are definitely some bad apples out there but if you believe Hollywood we are all sharks looking for the next kill.  I’d say that in terms of the portrayal of the boring law firm life, Better Call Saul has done the best job of doing it showing the progression of Kim Wexler’s career.  That is about as accurate a portrayal as I’ve seen of working at a typical law firm.” 
  1. Charles “Bo” Bowen, founder of The Bowen Law Group, an entertainment attorney who aids in supporting local businesses, both small and large while also practicing corporate law. Bowen is well known in the entertainment industry and has worked with various well-known clients across the globe. Bowen says that although most of Hollywood’s examples of lawyers have been positive, the big screens definitely make the attorney’s work-life seem more interesting than the actual day to day norm. “Hollywood portrayals of lawyers have always influenced perception, going all the way back to classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. Luckily, the majority of these portrayals have been positive and can give insight into the tricky moral, ethical, and evidentiary issues that attorneys often face. Hollywood portrayals also often tend to portray the legal profession as cooler and more exciting and action-packed than it actually is! Of course, no one would want to watch a movie or television show featuring an attorney sitting at his desk working on legal research and briefs for 80 hours a week.” 
  1. Birney O’Brian Bull, founder of the Adoption Law Office of Birney O’Brian Bull, focuses on adoption law and bringing kids the stability they need to flourish, advising on all types of adoptions. Bull says that how Hollywood portrays lawyers makes a big difference in people’s perception of real lawyers, and their usual workday, “No doubt, Hollywood definitely has an effect on people’s views regarding lawyers, and our daily lives. Most movies or TV shows dramatize the amount of action we see in our daily lives when in reality it’s usually a vast amount of paperwork.” 
  1. Carol A. Wilson, founder of the Law Office of Carol A. Wilson, PLLC, focuses on family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, and marital agreements. Wilson states that Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers tends to be unrealistic and that clients don’t always get the verdict they might have wanted. Wilson explains that lawyers are forced to work with what they can, while also abiding by the law. “TV gives the impression that if your lawyer were just a bit smarter than all the rest, they could solve every problem. In reality, lawyers must make the best of the law, the facts, and the evidence of every client’s case.” 

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.