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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. Amy Oraefo, the founder of Amy Oraefo, P.C., is a boutique law firm that focuses on entertainment law, intellectual property law, business law, and general counsel services for new and established entertainers, content creators, and entrepreneurs. When asked about her opinion on if Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession, Orafo states “I definitely think the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession because Hollywood sometimes portrays lawyers in a negative light – as greedy and condescending characters.  I often have new clients and individuals who engage with me in various settings and state that I am “so nice to be an attorney” as if being a lawyer is synonymous with being rude or unpleasant.  I take my position as a lawyer seriously so I am intentional about treating everyone with respect and changing the narrative about lawyers.  I use every opportunity possible to empower and educate others so that they will have the courage and the necessary tools to bet on themselves and excel in their respective industries.”
  1. Sean Modjarrad, the founder of MAS Law Firm, is known for being knowledgeable, zealous, and having unbridled tenacity to get the most favorable outcome for our clients for over 20 years.  Their primary practice area is personal injury and civil litigation. Modjarad clearly sees the discrepancy of his profession in Hollywood, as well as its influence. “Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers absolutely influences how people think of the legal profession. Movies and TV shows have arguably created an image problem for attorneys by depicting us as brash and ruthless. However, most of the lawyers are thoughtful, good listeners, and genuinely invested in their clients. At the day’s end, the client’s best interest within the bounds of the law is the sole goal of a lawyer.” Modjarrad also notices the jaded depiction of the actual courtroom and legal process. “Additionally, Hollywood has many people believing that lawyers spend most of their time in the courtroom. But the reality of this is the exact opposite: most cases never go to trial. It takes a long time for a case to be tried.  The truth is that in mass media, even the most realistic attorney portrayals differ significantly from the actuality of legal practice. For example, most courtroom dramas focus on the work of a single lawyer who is vital in solving a particular case. This, however, discounts the work of the support team, such as associate attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, etc.  Lastly, Hollywood brushes over the cost that’s associated with a case during its investigation, litigation, discovery, and trial phase.  Putting a case together from its inception to the end is very costly and time-consuming.”
  2. Joseph W. Brown, II, partner at Smith, Wallis, and Scott, LLP, is well known for focusing mainly on assisting individuals who have suffered some type of injury receive the maximum compensation possible under the law. Brown highlights the unflattering approach that the big screen takes when portraying attorneys. “ For the most part, Hollywood portrayals of lawyers are not generally flattering and I do believe that has an influence on the way people think of the legal profession.  The average person will have had little if any, contact with an attorney for most of their life.  So the only information they have regarding the profession is through media, whether it be print, video, movies, television, etc.  Which is unfortunate, because the vast majority of attorneys are good people who want to do the best that they can to help solve their client’s problem.   Hollywood portrayals of lawyers are also more glamorous than the actual practice of law, which mainly consists of mundane tasks and a significant amount of reading and writing.”
  1. Mario Herrera, a co-founder of Hosseiny & Herrera Law Firm, is a multi-faceted law firm that handles jury trials in the area of criminal, family, civil, and immigration law. Hosseiny & Herrera started their firm with the focus to help immigrants in their time of need and handle the complexity of immigration visa applications and deportation proceedings, which are mixed with criminal charges and family law consequences. Herrera clearly depicts the misconstrued portrayal that television gives to his profession. “There is no question that Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession because they capture only the drama of the courtroom and at times play up the negative characteristics some lawyers may have.  For that reason when clients meet us we try to be personable and connect with our clients so that they know we truly care about their case and will do what is necessary to get the best result as efficiently as possible.”

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.