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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Jun 15, 2015

While the heroes of the American Revolution paved the way for a new form of law and government, it’s often the stars of the big and small screen that inspire many would-be barristers to attend law school. Here’s a list of the best throughout American cinema.




Courtesy of Universal Pictures


Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), To Kill a Mockingbird Originating from Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, Atticus has become a folk hero in legal circles. In a segregated southern courtroom, Finch takes on the task of defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. Peck won the Oscar for Best Actor as Finch, and in 2003, the American Film Institute named Finch (as portrayed by Peck) as the greatest hero in American film.

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), Philadelphia Another Oscar-winning performance, Hanks plays Beckett, a Senior Associate at the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia. After being fired for incompetence, Beckett takes his employer to court, arguing that the firing is actually as a result of his diagnosis with AIDS.

Frank Galvin (Paul Newman),The Verdict Turning to alcohol after a string of losses, Galvin takes a medical malpractice case reminiscent of the Karen Ann Quinlan case, where it’s assumed that the defense will settle for a large amount. Galvin.finds a chance to obtain justice for the family of a young woman put into a coma in a classic David vs. Goliath story. Newman was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Galvin.

Paul Biegler (James Stewart), Anatomy of a Murder Adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, Anatomy of a Murder is a realistic courtroom drama in which Biegler acquits an army lieutenant of murder. Biegler’s folksy speech and laid-back demeanor hide a sharp legal mind and a propensity for courtroom theatrics.

Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), A Few Good Men LT Daniel Kaffee is a Navy lawyer who defends two Marines accused of murdering a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay. After originally going for a plea bargain, Kaffee is convinced that the accused marines were most likely carrying out an order from a commanding officer. His role is best remembered when he demands the truth from Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson), who famously replies, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci), My Cousin Vinny Although he failed the bar exam six times, Vinny successfully defends his cousin with style. Lawyers have commented on the comedy’s realistic depiction of courtroom procedure and trial strategy. Both Pesci and Marisa Tomei received praise for their performances, and Tomei won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vito, Vinny’s auto expert girlfriend.

Martin Vail (Richard Gere), Primal Fear Vail is a Chicago defense attorney who defends his altar boy client (Edward Norton) charged with murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop. At first, Vail is interested solely in the publicity that the case will bring, but eventually, Vail comes to believe that his client is truly innocent, much to the chagrin of the prosecutor, Janet Venable.

Fred Gailey (John Payne), Miracle on 34th StreetThe story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City, and focuses on the impact of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. When Kris Kringle is accused of being cuckoo, attorney-with-a-heart-of-gold Gailey quits his job to defend Santa in court.

John Milton (Al Pacino), The Devil’s Advocate Named for the 17th-Century poet who authored Paradise Lost, Al Pacino literally plays the lawyer from hell. As Satan, he tries to lure an up and coming lawyer to the dark side. Being mostly a supernatural thriller, the film makes points on morality complete with graphic religious imagery.

Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), Witness for the Prosecution Sir Wilfrid Robarts takes on Leonard Vole as a client, despite the objections of his private nurse, Miss Plimsoll. Vole is accused of murdering Mrs. Emily French, a rich, older widow who had become enamored of him, going so far as to make him the main beneficiary of her will.