Movies

The courtroom lends itself to dramatization. A trial has a natural story arc: The adversarial system makes for a clear conflict between characters. There’s a natural end point when both sides rest their cases and the verdict comes down. Plus, lawyers are such loveable characters.

And so there are many great movies and TV shows about lawyers. (Along with some not so great ones.) They can amuse, inspire, terrify, or convince you to go to law school.

The ABA Journal has made a list of the 25 greatest fictional lawyers of all time:

In our survey of this literature of lawyers, however, we feel obliged to recognize a great divide—ante-Atticus and post-Atticus.

From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.

That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer — once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon — was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.

Since Finch is a literary lawyer on steroids, they have cut him from the competition. The list is the 25 greatest who are not Atticus Finch. Did your favorite make the list?

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As we noted yesterday, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, on track to be the newest justice of the Supreme Court, apparently hasn’t been bitten by the “Twilight” movies. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tried to get Kagan to weigh in on the case of Edward v. Jacob, Kagan declined — a little forcefully. This won’t help White House efforts to depict the Divine Miss K as a girly girl.

But perhaps other legal types have a weakness for the series of vampire romance films. On Wednesday, the Washington Post had an article on the hard-core “Twilight” fans who came out in force for Tuesday night, post-12 a.m. screenings. Reports the Post:

After “Eclipse” was over, moviegoers gave it mixed reviews.

“It was a lot more frustrating than I thought it was going to be, ” said Bill Murray, 31.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Gus Golden, 33. “It had a little bit in it for everyone.”

It seemed odd to find thirtysomething men at the midnight screening of a film aimed at teenage girls. To be sure, Robert Pattinson is ridiculously hot, and Taylor Lautner is quite the butterface (butHISface?), with abs that should be illegal under the Model Penal Code (hehe — penal). But then a little bird told us: “Gus Golden and Bill Murray are both rising 3L’s at Georgetown University Law Center.” And suddenly it all made sense.

The “Twilight” films are supposed to be juvenile and insubstantial — not typical cinematic fare for lawyers and law students. But before we started on a post heaping scorn upon these GULC students, and cracking jokes about how a fall from the so-called “T14″ is imminent, we decided to do some digging….

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A tale of three nominees (left to right): John Roberts, Harriet Miers and Samuel Alito.


Last night I headed across town to NYU Law School for a screening of Advise & Dissent, a new documentary about the Supreme Court confirmation process. Here’s a brief description of the film:

ADVISE & DISSENT is the first documentary to go behind the lines and into the trenches of the judicial confirmation wars. SCOTUSblog has called it “a fascinating, balanced insider look,” and Politico named it “a must see.” Timely and timeless, the film illuminates the collision of politics and justice.

Last night’s showing of the movie was followed by a conversation, featuring the following participants:

A report about the movie screening and the panel discussion, after the jump.

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It’s like Titanic, but with fewer survivors.

– Tagline for Lathamed: The Movie

I wasn’t the only viewer taken aback by Miranda’s impulsive decision to quit her law firm in a climate in which a powerhouse like Latham & Watkins lays off hundreds.

– New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, writing about reviewers’ reactions to Sex and the City 2.

Hello, what have we here?

Based on the approximately ten billion emails we’ve received about this into tips@abovethelaw.com in the last few hours, it seems a lot of you already know that the “Star Wars kid” has decided to attend law school. We think the first Kamino-like flood of emails linked to the story on TechCrunch:

It was eight years ago that Ghyslain Raza slashed his way into our hearts with his Star Wars Kid video. Sadly, Raza suffered from severe bullying and abuse for his video and eventually ended up in a psychiatric ward for children…

He and his family sued the kids who leaked the video for $250,000, settled, and that seemed to be the end of it. Now, however, Ghyslain just became the president of the Patrimoine Trois-Rivières, a heritage society dedicated to conserving his hometown in Quebec. He’s also working on law degree at McGill in Montreal.

I have a bad feeling about this. But clearly escape from McGill is not his plan. Raza must face his demons, alone.

In case you don’t remember Star Wars kid: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

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Oscar.JPG“The winners never thank their lawyers,” said AmLaw Daily recently in an interview with James Cameron’s attorneys. But some lawyers did get love at the Oscars this year, as noted by Business Insider:

If you paid close attention to last night’s Oscar ceremony, amid the tears and triumphs, a couple of lawyers got their thanks.

If you paid close attention, we’re sorry — because you probably noticed Kristen Stewart hawking up something during her speech, and how scary Judd Nelson looked during the John Hughes montage. Overall, the show was painful to watch.
We stuck around long enough to see Best Supporting Actress Mo’Nique give her lawyer, Ricky Anderson, a nod. But when dancers came out on the stage to “interpret” Sherlock Holmes, we turned off the TV in disgust. Thus, we missed out on Jeff Bridges thanking his power lawyer, Bob Wallerstein.
Let’s take a closer look at these two celebrated attorneys.

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We’ve already mentioned the recent arrest of acclaimed film director Roman Polanski (pictured at right, with uber-hottie Adrien Brody). But it’s a slow news day controversial, so we’d like to give you a chance to discuss it in more depth.

Over at the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones has a nice write-up. He explains the background:

The Oscar-winning film director was arrested on Sunday in Zurich on a 31-year-old warrant issued in the U.S. for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski was arrested, at the request of the United States, as he jetted into Switzerland to collect an award for his life’s work.

Local police arrested Polanski at the airport upon his arrival in Zurich, where he was to receive a lifetime-achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. Polanski was jailed pending a decision on whether to extradite him to the U.S., according to the Swiss Justice Ministry….

Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after he pleaded guilty to having had sexual intercourse with girl — the allegation was that he gave the girl alcohol and part of a quaalude before raping her. Since then, he has lived in France, where he was born. French authorities refused to extradite him to the U.S., claiming that his crime didn’t fall under those covered by treaties between the two countries.

According to ABC News, which obtained comment from Polanski’s French lawyer, the director plans to fight extradition.
Should the authorities keep pursuing Polanski? Some pros and cons, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

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Justice Antonin Scalia headshot.jpgThose law students at Fordham University have a new tidbit to add to their dossier on SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia. He made an appearance last night at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to talk about his book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.”
Politico reports that he gave out some pieces of advice, namely:

  • “Don’t beat a dead horse.”
  • “Be brief. And when your time expires, shut up and sit down.”
  • Avoid acronyms in brief writing and oral arguments.
  • Lawyers should study a judge’s background and likes and dislikes before they appear in court. “At the very least, these details will humanize the judge before you, so that you will be arguing to a human being instead of a chair.”

That last bit of advice can be taken too far, of course. Nino was annoyed when he found out about Fordham Law’s background research on him earlier this year.
Justice Scalia was willing to add to the files, though, revealing his favorite legal movie. What is it?

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Hogan Hartson Sex and the City.jpgOver at AmLaw Daily, Zach Lowe has revealed that Hogan & Hartson will be playing the part of Mr. Big’s office in Sex and the City 2, due out next year:

The atrium on the 25th floor of Hogan’s offices at 875 Third Ave. will be transformed into Mr. Big’s on-screen office, according to an internal memo that found its way to our in-box. (We have no idea what Mr. Big does for a living, but we know he’s played by the dreamy Chris Noth.)

Lowe, we’re flattered you’ve adopted the royal ATL “we.” We’re not sure what Big does for a living either, but we know he’s not a lawyer, which is perhaps why he has an atrium-sized office.
The Sex and the City crew will be at Hogan’s office on Sept. 2, but an internal memo — which we invite tipsters to send for posting — indicates that friends, family, and random Chris Noth-stalkers shouldn’t try to drop in. We wonder if they would make an exception for Justice Scalia, who may or may not be a SATC fan.
The internal memo says that Hogan employees might get to meet the stars and might get autographs, but it’s not guaranteed. And the memo reminds partners that on the day of the filming, their star wattage will be dimmed:

A few partners will also have to clean up their offices “so your boxes are not in the movie!” the memo says.

We talked to Hogan managing partner Warren Gorrell. He says he works on the 24th floor. “I’m not one of the partners with a messy office,” he told us. Gorrell’s take on Hogan’s Sex and the City 2 star turn, after the jump.

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