The law has always been a ripe topic for fiction. All over the world, lawyers, legal battles, law firms, and even major historical cases have been written about in literature, or shown on television and film. Just like no two cases are the same when it comes to personal injury, the way lawyers are depicted in media is not an entirely accurate representation of the profession.
Fictional Lawyers and Law Firms In Popular Culture
While no single fictional entry can capture everything involved in the legal process or practicing law, there have been countless attempts. Here are a few memorable examples that people might be familiar with.
Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, USN, JAG Corps – A Few Good Men
Tom Cruise played the aforementioned character, who goes toe to toe with Jack Nicholson’s high-ranking Marine Officer about the existence of a potential “code red”, which is punishment for soldiers outside the normal scope of justice. If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re sure to recognize its most famous scene, which involves Nicholson’s character telling Cruise during an intense cross-examination, that he “can’t handle the truth”. The film captures the idea of pursuing justice even knowing that it could end in loss of personal rank or dishonorable discharge from the military.
Civil Litigation and Medical Malpractice Firm
Crane, Poole & Schmidt – Boston Legal
Airing from 2004-2008, Boston Legal was a legal dramedy that focused on the exploits of the law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt. The show’s well-regarded reputation is in part because of the two lead actors, James Spader and William Shatner, who both won Emmy’s for their performances. While the show was able to effectively blend humor into the day to day life of the firm, the drama was very real, as the lawyers delivered effective and often moving opening and closing arguments during cases.
Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird rose to instant notoriety, winning the Pulitzer Prize. It is now regarded as a classic of modern American Literature. The book’s plot focuses on lawyer Atticus Finch. He is a asked to defend Tom Robinson, an African-American wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a young white woman. While the subject matter at the time was extremely controversial, Finch served as a beacon of integrity for lawyers. His moral compass guides him to set a strong example for his children, as he believed his refusal to take on the case would make him undeserving of his own and other’s respect. Finch is now regarded as one of the greatest heroes of American literature, and examples of his impact on the legal profession are numerous.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Vincent LaGuardia “Vinny” Gambini – My Cousin Vinny
Joe Pesci serves as the titular character, a newly admitted personal injury lawyer with no trial experience from Brooklyn, New York, who is asked by family to try a case in Alabama. Much of the film’s humor stems from the obvious contrast between Pesci’s fast talking, brash New York lawyer and the southern Judge, lawyers, and jury he must win over. Those in the legal profession admire it for its depiction of courtroom procedure, and how it tackles cross-examination and expert witnesses.
Tax Law Firm
Bendini, Lambert & Locke – The Firm by John Grisham
Grisham’s name has become synonymous with legal thrillers. While not his first publication, The Firm was the book that catapulted him to fame. It’s about a young lawyer who is drawn to a seemingly perfect law firm that isn’t quite what it appears to be. There is a somewhat similar premise for many of his novels, adding mystery and intrigue to various aspects of the legal system. Grisham’s experience as a lawyer, politician, and print media writer all lend an incredible level of authenticity to his works. While he often depicts law firms as large, faceless and sometimes evil entities for dramatic purposes, the detail he goes into for each novel makes them stand apart. No author has been able to capture the legal profession in fiction like Grisham.
Enjoy the Fiction, but Embrace the Reality of Law Firms
Fiction is meant to entertain us, but they are not the truth when it comes to the law. Whenever you find yourself in need of legal aid, reach out to a trusted personal injury law firm to help get your life back on track after a traumatic event.