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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. Dione Traci Duckett, founder of Duckett Law LLC, focuses in the areas of elder law and estate planning, providing comprehensive, individualized services to help clients protect and provide for themselves and their families as clients age or in the event of their disability or incapacity. Duckett states that he does think Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers can influence the public’s opinion, particularly the people who have had little interaction with lawyers. Duckett says that lawyers are often portrayed as less than honest, willing to achieve their goals by whatever means necessary. “Many people are intimidated by attorneys and have had little or no interaction with attorneys.  Additionally, people are often slow to trust attorneys.  Many of my clients are seniors.  They have lived long lives and are able to read people.  I spend a lot of time educating my clients and talking to them to help them understand legal concepts and feel more comfortable with me.”
  1. R. Shawn McBride, founder of The R. Shawn McBride Law Firm, PLLC, focuses their practice on corporate law, providing assistance with partnership agreements, mergers, capital raise, contract negotiations and asset protection planning. McBride does believe Hollywood has an effect on how people view lawyers, and their daily routines, but oftentimes those portrayals are inaccurate and more dramaticized. “It is clear people often think of lawyers as they see them on TV. And the TV versions of lawyers and law practice are rarely accurate. In the real world we spend a lot of time on research and other activities before we can go out and make conclusions or go to court.”
  1. Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, founder of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, PLLC, is a Texas based firm with locations in Austin, and Waco.  Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, PLLC, mission is to bring peace to immigrant families. The firm primarily handles green card issues, citizenship cases, deportation defense, humanitarian cases,  and will be adding bankruptcy to the list of successful niches to represent the great people of Texas. When we asked Lincoln-Goldfinch the question of if she thinks the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers influences how people think of the legal profession, Lincoln-Goldfinch stated “Most lawyers that I know are helpers. They went into the legal profession because they wanted to help people. They want to help people through difficulty – through difficult problems like lawsuits, divorces and criminal problems, and immigration problems. Oftentimes people associate lawyers with hardship, because the two can be connected. Most of the lawyers I know got into the profession to help people, and are actually great people.”
  2. Shanica Wilkinson, Founder of Type This, LLC, is a paralegal that assists her clients with expert legal advice that prepares her clients when seeking litigation. Wilkinson is an expert in bankruptcy, real estate, and immigration. Wilkinson has her own experience with Hollywood’s portrayal of lawyers. In her early teenage years, she was influenced by a certain TV show to get into law. “Hollywood’s impact on me and my view of lawyers became evident when I decided in my pre-teen years that I wanted to be a lawyer- I was mesmerized by Claire Huxtable on the Cosby show; she was my ideal “lawyer” role model.  I wanted to argue like her, I wanted to have that kind of respect that Phylicia Rashad’s character portrayed. Later on, I went as far as taking the LSAT, but I decided to work a year as a paralegal to save up money.”

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 PR Firm 

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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.