Most of the time, however, the lawyer is the sharp and savvy hero of the film, such as Paul Biegler in Anatomy of a Murder, Sir Wilfrid Robarts in Witness for the Prosecution and Mick Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer. Speaking of Lincoln (Honest Abe and not the automobile), the silver screen might reveal a lawyer possessing an inkling of presidential timbre, as was the case in Young Mr. Lincoln.
Sometimes a judgment is being made about the legal system itself. The law is found wanting, if not guilty of neglect or outright breach of the social contract. A movie places the legal system on trial, charged with dehumanizing those who foolishly believed that the law was worthy of all that high decorum, the pomp and circumstance of coming before the court. The cynicism and corruption of the system become the focal point and plot conceit of the film’s dramatic arc.
Quiz: Which movie lawyer are you
Attribution: Illustration by Steven Hughes, text by Thane Rosenbaum.