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Top US Attorneys Share Their Opinion On Hollywood Portrayal Affecting Public Perception 

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. Sarah Breiner, the founder of Breiner Law Firm, primarily focuses on estate planning and small business planning/start-up. Breiner operates differently from traditional firms. “My process starts with education and self-empowerment so that families can make educated decisions when it comes to estate planning, and decide for themselves what is the most cost-effective means of planning for them.” In Breiner’s opinion, there is in fact a jaded perception of lawyers on TV. “So many things about these storylines are dramatized for entertainment value and I enjoy them myself from time to time, but they often show lawyers in a certain light which are oftentimes quite far from the truth. I have certainly met my share of lawyers in my day that are very much as manipulative and conniving as those I have seen portrayed in TV dramas on a regular basis. The Good Wife immediately comes to mind and I often made comments when watching that series that I felt like the writers must have been in on the senior partner meetings at my previous firm. This is a reason I chose to open my own practice and separate myself from the stereotypical firm for sure. However, what often concerns me the most, is that the legal procedures and legal rules are often incorrect on TV and many people intake this information as truth.”
  1. Femi Ogunjumelo, Principal Attorney at Mayday Law Office, focuses on a wide range of personal injury matters. Their offices are fully dedicated to meeting the needs and goals of their clients. When it comes to the Hollywood portrayal of lawyers, Ogunjumelo states that he doesn’t think it affects public perception. “Most people that have had interactions with attorneys know they are serious about their client’s representation and driven only by the desire to obtain the result their clients seek. Drama shows on TV are for entertainment and reflect little to nothing about the core ideals of the legal profession.”
  1. Joseph L. Wilson, the founder of JL Wilson Trial Law, is a firm that focuses on the plaintiff’s personal injury. Wilson’s office represents serious injury victims, as well as the families who lost a loved one to wrongful death from a car wreck, truck wreck, slip and fall, civil rights/excessive force cases, as well as negligent security cases. According to Wilson, he clearly sees the effect the big screen has on the portrayal of lawyers. “I’ve noticed that in a lot of my trials, from talking to potential jurors in voir dire, they are expecting a very adversarial proceeding such as in Law & Order.  Sometimes, we give them what they ask for given the nature of the case, but more often than not opposing counsel and I work well together, and are generally very cordial to one another.  It’s very obvious when we speak to jurors after a trial that it is quite a surprise to them. Jurors also expect a “gotcha” moment in a lot of trials, like in Perry Mason.  But once again that is extremely rare also.”
  1. Ken Eulo, co-founder of Smith & Eulo Law Firm, is a criminal defense firm with office locations in Orlando, FL and Kissimmee, FL.  Eulo has 20 years of experience defending individuals in the Orlando area. Eulo agrees that Hollywood gives lawyers a bad image. “I think Hollywood consistently paints lawyers in a bad light, and people have a general distrust for legal professionals as a result. Most lawyers are not into the shady practices that are portrayed in movies/television shows, and most have the best interest in mind for their clients.”

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 Pubic Relations Firm in Miami Florida

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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.