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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. Kim Covington, partner at The Law Office of Behrends, Carusone & Covington, P.C., focuses on bankruptcy and helps individuals, married couples and small businesses file for bankruptcy. Covington states that Hollywood portrays the more glamorous side of the legal profession, instead of the reality for most lawyers. “I do think that Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers influences people’s general impressions of lawyers.  I think that the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers is more glamorous than the day to day reality of practicing law.  People may believe that being a lawyer involves wearing expensive clothes to work and litigating in the courtroom every day.  Most lawyers are basically helping people with disputes to try and resolve or negotiate a settlement of that dispute. They may sit at a desk all day or work from home.” Covington explains the more realistic side of an attorney’s day to day life. “The average lawyer handles a large volume of complicated disputes and works on bringing a fair resolution to the disputes.  The average lawyer may not be wearing a suit every day to work (unless they have court that day).”
  1. Stephanie M. Brinkley,  founder of Brinkley Law Firm, LLC, practices fertility law, and assists in areas such as surrogacy, egg/sperm/embryo donation, and even adoption. Brinkley states many new clients come in with the expectation of the lawyer they have seen on movies and TV series, only to be disappointed. “Clients often have a love/hate relationship with most attorneys because they think our lives are glamorous.  Because of Hollywood, they believe we spend our days winning in court and our evenings enjoying martinis at happy hour on their dime.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”
  1. Gregg R. Brennan, founder of The Law Offices of Gregg R. Brennan, PA, focuses his practice on criminal and family law, and assists in cases involving family law matters, such as divorces, and child support issues,  as well as probate, wills, trusts and estate work. Brennan says Hollywood has influenced the public’s opinions for many years. “The public’s perception on how things are handled in this profession has been going on since Perry Mason aired on television in the early days of that medium.  People expect trials to be conducted in a certain way and they don’t understand that the rules of evidence restrict how and why certain items may come in.  People I talk to see flabbergasted that you can’t just take any piece of paper and have it admitted into evidence simply by announcing to the courtroom that you’re doing so. Also, real trials generally lack the drama of something like the courtrooms scene in A Few Good Men between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson and are rather boring and mundane affairs”
  1. Anthony Korda, founder of The Korda Law Firm, generally focuses on immigration law and handles cases involving business immigration, family immigration, and immigration litigation. Korda says that Hollywood has swayed the public’s perception of lawyers in positive and negative ways. “I have practiced (as a Barrister) in England, and as an Attorney in the US. I think that how Attorneys are portrayed on TV and in Film does influence the public perception. In England, we are often thought of as “fat cats” earning vast sums. In the US, we are more often thought of as unethical and corrupt, which is far from the truth in most cases. Being knowledgeable, ethical, reliable, and good value does not make for good drama.”

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.