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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. Jessie M. Thomas, founder of the Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas, focuses on immigration law, and helping clients through the process while assuring them they’re not alone. Thomas says that she believes Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers are skewed, almost like most other professions such as doctors. She explains that most lawyers she knows of, including herself, are not in the courtroom all the time. “There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and after hours that is not portrayed on T.V.  or on the big screen. So many sleepless nights trying to think of a way to help our clients succeed. It’s never a 9-5 kind of job. It follows us home. Lots of sweat, lots of tears, lots of stress and oftentimes it’s at the expense of our families” 
  2. Rusty Gunter, founder of the Law Office of Russell I. Gunter, II, focuses on criminal law, from misdemeanors to capital murder, Gunter primarily engages in complex litigation for the more heinous crimes. Gunter states that Hollywood has skewed people’s beliefs as to how lawyers act and handle business, starting as early as the 1980s. “There was a shift beginning in the 1980s where lawyers were portrayed as money-hungry, immoral people who would do anything to win their case, even if it meant violating the ethics rules and whatever remained of their own conscience. I believe with the rise of innocence projects and the explosion of documentaries regarding cases where people were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, that perhaps the pendulum is swinging back to the belief and portrayal of lawyers as trying to right the wrongs of a justice system that has failed so many.” 
  1. Dave Wishnew, partner at Crawford, Wishnew & Lang, PLLC, primarily handles business disputes, but also employment, intellectual property, aviation, bankruptcy, real estate and construction, oil/gas and energy issues. Wishnew says that without a doubt, Hollywood has an effect on how people perceive lawyers, and the entire process of settling a case, but that there is some accuracy to these movies and TV shows. “It is often easier for me to explain what type of law I practice by comparing myself to Harvey from Suits (he’s taller and better looking, but we both are name partners at our own litigation firms).  It is also obvious by the type of questions I get about litigation and comparisons with movies and shows, and a common misconception about the length and pace of litigation (e.g. a 30 minute show depicting a case that could take 2 years). While Hollywood must sensationalize the practice to make it compelling for the audience, I’ve found recently that many shows are surprisingly accurate on the judge’s rulings and procedural/evidentiary issues.”

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 Miami Based 

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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.