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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. Michael Byrd, co-founder of ByrdAdatto, focuses on healthcare and business law, and aids clients in the healthcare industry, entrepreneurs, and other professional service providers. Byrd states that he has an idea of how Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers could affect people’s outlook, but that he hasn’t had any clients ask about the common misconceptions due to the type of law he practices. “I am sure it affects the perception of individuals to a degree.  We are a business and health care law firm, so we are interacting with other businesses and professionals and do not have experience with these types of perception issues. 
  1. Dagoverto Zavala, founder of Zavala Law, PLLC, focuses primarily on family-based immigration law, and provides assistance in complex immigration cases. Zavala says that Hollywood has always been able to sway people’s beliefs on certain things, especially lawyers. “Popular media plays a significant role in the public’s perception of any profession or other matters portrayed in movies, television, news etc. The public is easily influenced by Hollywood and this is especially true of the legal profession.  Many individuals particularly some from within my own family perceive lawyers as being particularly cunning and skirting the law albeit legally but unethically. This is the quintessential cinematic portrayal of lawyers in Hollywood. 
  1. Elizabeth Schwartz, founder of The Law Office of Elizabeth Schwartz, PLLC, practices family law, and usually handles cases where CPS is involved to guarantee that the parent and child’s side of the story is heard. Schwartz states that the media can affect the viewer’s perception of lawyers, specifically how they practice law. “I believe Hollywood affects people’s opinions on lawyers and law practice as a whole, there are a lot of common misconceptions, but I think the only thing people really assume is how lawyers on TV or in movies display client confidentiality. When you represent a client, you don’t tell anyone what they think without permission. I think that’s a really positive thing for building trust. 
  1. Lisa Sanders Richardson, founder of the Law Office of Lisa Richardson, P.C., focuses exclusively on family law, and helps clients by offering cost-effective solutions to divorce and other family matters that require litigation. Richardson says that she believes Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers has an effect on how things are actually handled in reality. “ I definitely think that Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession. The real practice of law is generally slightly less dramatic and much more paperwork intensive than TV would lead people to believe. We actually spend the majority of our time in the office, not the courtroom and many cases are settled without going to the courthouse at all. ” 

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.