25 of the Best Lawyer Movies Made

Judge's gavel on a movie clapboard.

While legal movies are not everyone’s cup of tea, Hollywood is smart enough to create something we can all enjoy. Several of which include those that are based on a true story, fictional stories to add mystery and fascinating courtroom dramas that are intense or amusing.

Whether you’re an aspiring lawyer or just a movie lover, we’re sure that you’ll have fun with our compelling lists which will cover everything from suspense, comedy, mystery, and some would even leave your mind blown.

25. The Judge

The Judge movie poster

The Judge is an exciting and incredibly memorable film starring Robert Downey Junior, Robert Duvall and Vera Fermiga. The story centers around a star attorney’s return home to attempt to salvage his father’s reputation after he is accused of murder. The plot is made more fascinating by his father being one of the town’s judges, who has sentenced countless people over his years.

The movie is well told and incredibly well-acted. The film was given a forty-eight percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer”. Robert Duvall was even nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role.” The movie will make an audience cheer, jeer, and perhaps cry. It’s a great movie.

24. The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief movie poster

The Pelican Brief in an enthralling tale following a law student who writes a paper theorizing about the perpetrators of a heinous crime: the murder of two sitting Supreme Court judges. After her professor sends the “Pelican Brief” along, he is murdered and the president convinces the FBI to hold off the investigation. The movie is thrilling and will leave an audience guessing until the very end.

The film scored well and was given a fifty-two percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer”. The movie had no Academy Award success; however, it did win the A.S.C.A.P. award for the top box office film of the year. The movie’s great and will leave an audience thinking about it long after its final scene comes to an end and the credits roll.

23. A Civil Action

A Civil Action movie poster

A Civil Action is a thrilling tale about an aggressive and gutsy lawyer taking on a case that will put his entire career and potentially his firm at risk. He’s convinced he can win and the movie tells a great underdog story about a man fighting against the world he lives within and trying to prove himself capable of doing the impossible.

John Travolta stars alongside Robert Duvall and Kathleen Quinlan. Robert Duvall was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” and the cinematographer (Conrad L. Hall) was nominated for “Best Cinematography.” They may not have won their respective categories; however, the movie has received a sixty percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer”. The film is thrilling and teaches valuable lessons and ethos along the way.

22. Suspect

Suspect movie poster

Suspect is a story about a legal team attempting to do the right thing and finding all kinds of wrongdoings along the way. The film is a great “stick-it-to-the-man” tale. It stars the enigmatic Cher, as well as the great Dennis Quaid and prolific Liam Neeson.

The film may not have won any awards, but it has been well received and remembered by the public. The Rotten Tomatoes page for it was down, however, IMBD (another incredibly reputable internet-based movie site) gave the film a six-point-six, which is a very high number for them. The movie is wonderful and it will make a person feel in ways they may not have previously.

21. The Firm

The Firm movie poster

The Firm is a classic story of an ambitious young man getting exactly what he wants, only to discover it’s not quite what he had envisioned. He joins a prestigious law firm, only to discover there is a dark quality about the practice and that in order to be a part of the team, he must abandon some of the mores he’s held dear to him. It’s a great tale of “Is success really everything?”.

The movie stars Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, and Holly Hunter. The Rotten Tomatoes page was unavailable, however, IMBD gave the film a six-point-eight out of ten. Holly Hunter was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” and David Grusin was nominated for “best original musical score.” The film is great and truly unforgettable as it challenges a lot of people’s preconceived notions of morality and reality.

20. Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde movie poster

Legally Blonde is the definition of a classic. The film is a redemption story centered around the unforgettable “Elle Woods”. She begins as a sorority girl socialite from a rich family who has very little ambitions outside of marrying her college sweetheart. When he leaves her, she decides to also apply and go to Harvard Law School to prove he was incorrect about his assumptions about her “not being serious”, and him “needing a Jackie O., not a Marilyn.”

The movie stars the lovely Reese Witherspoon, as well as Luke Wilson and Selma Blair. The film had no Academy Awards success; however, it was nominated for two different Golden Globes: Reese Witherspoon was nominated for Best Performance of an Actress in a Comedy/Musical and the movie was nominated for Best Motion Picture (that’s a comedy/musical).

19. The Accused

The Accused movie poster

The Accused is a brutal story about a woman who suffers an awful group sexual assault and decides that she will not let the monsters get away with it. She seeks justice and does everything in her power to ensure that both the attackers and those who cheered the event on are brought to justice.

The movie stars Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, and Bernie Coulson. Jodie Foster was rewarded for her incredibly gripping performance by receiving the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. The page was down for the film’s Rotten Tomatoes section but was awarded a seven-point-one by IMDB. The film is gripping, compelling and an absolute must-watch.

18. The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker movie poster

The Rainmaker follows the story of a young and ambitious attorney trying to do the right thing. After discovering an insurance company’s fraudulent ways, he sets out on a mission to help out those hurt by the fraud and get them their rightful compensation.

The movie stars a young Matt Damon, as well as John Voigt, Claire Daines, and the memorable Danny Devito. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes page was down, but it was well-received by IMDB, who scored the movie a seven-point-one out of ten. The movie was fairly well-received critically, with John Voigt even receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The film is a must-watch that will infuriate the audience at times, perhaps make them cry, and definitely leave them with a set of sure-fire values.

17. Runaway Jury

Runaway Jury movie poster

Runaway Jury is a tale of corruption. It’s a story about the lengths people are willing to go to in order to ensure justice serves them the way that they choose. When a widow attempts to sue a powerful corporation for what she feels was the murder of her husband, it’s discovered that both sides of the case are attempting to manipulate the jury selection process. Both sides are told the jury will be purchasable and must debate just how much winning the case is worth to them and what is and isn’t right.

The film stars John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman, and Dustin Hoffman. While the film somehow had no Academy Awards success; the film is wonderful and was well received. The Rotten Tomatoes score assigned to it gave the film a seventy-three percent on the “Tomatometer.” The movie is thrilling and will leave the audience asking themselves questions like “does it matter whose innocent when both sides are guilty of illegal activity?”.

16. A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill movie poster

A Time to Kill tells the story of a man being forced to do something virtually unthinkable and the lawyer who decides to defend him. After his daughter is kidnapped, brutally beaten and raped by a group of white supremacists, the father takes it upon himself to seek justice. As the men are walking down a hallway in the courthouse, he mows them down with a machine gun. While there is no question of whether or not he killed them, the question is whether or not he was in his right mindset. Using a plea of not guilty due to momentary insanity, his lawyer must try to get his client off of his charges.

The movie stars Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and the timeless Samuel L. Jackson. The Rotten Tomatoes page was unavailable, however, the film was scored a seven-point-four by IMDB. Samuel L. Jackson was even nominated for a Golden Globe for the “Best Actor in a Supporting Role.” The movie will make a person furious, make them cry, and make them leave with the question of “what would you do in that situation?”

15. Primal Fear

Primal Fear movie poster

Primal Fear is a gripping story of what happens when an altar boy is accused of murdering a priest. The reality is much more complicated than this and begs the audience to feel for the “murderers” position he was placed in. The tale is compelling and well told.

The movie stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Edward Norton. The Rotten Tomatoes page was down, unfortunately, however, IMDB was so kind as to score it a well deserved seven-point-seven out of ten. The movie was so well received by critics that Edward Norton was awarded an Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role.” The movie is compelling, stunning at times, and will leave the audience asking important questions.

14. The Client

The Client movie poster

The Client is the story of two poor young boys who come across a man killing himself while they’re going out to smoke a cigarette. He pulls the older boy into his vehicle and tells him about his life, spilling the beans about his life as an attorney for the mafia. The younger boy goes into a fear-induced coma as the older boy is summoned by the ambitious district attorney to get him to testify against the mafia. The boy pleas the fifth and gets a lawyer to defend him, as he is afraid to testify and risk the lives of himself, his brother, and single mother.

The film is riveting and does a wonderful job of guiding the audience through the boy’s struggle. It was well-received and earned a seventy-eight percent “Tomatometer” score from Rotten Tomatoes. Susan Sarandon was awarded for her excellent performance, finding herself nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

13. Philadelphia

Philadelphia movie poster

Philadelphia is the engrossing story of a man being wrongfully terminated from his law firm after a diagnosis of H.I.V. begins to worsen his health. The only attorney that will represent him is small-time and homophobic, producing great conversations between the two characters.

The movie stars Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, and Antonio Banderas. The film was incredibly well-received, earning a seventy-nine percent on the “Tomatometer” by Rotten Tomatoes. The film earned great award success as well, with Tom Hanks bringing home the Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Leading Role.” Bruce Springsteen even received an Academy Award for “Best Music, Original Song). The movie is incredible and unforgettable. Expect to cry, though.

12. Liar Liar

Liar Liar movie poster

Liar Liar is the hilarious tale of an ambitious attorney suddenly being stricken with a curse that prevents him from lying for twenty-four hours. To add to the mayhem, he is trying a high-interest case, which will have lasting ramifications over his ability to become a partner at his law firm.

The film stars Jim Carey, Maura Tierney, and Amanda Donohoe. The film received an eighty-one percent score on the “Tomatometer” from Rotten Tomatoes and Jim Carey was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actor in a motion picture – Comedy or Musical.”

11. …And Justice for All

…And Justice for All movie poster

…And Justice for All is a tale of moral questions. The film centers around a lawyer who finds himself forced to defend a judge who he knows is guilty. He is a good person though and is torn about what to do.

The movie stars Al Pacino, Jack Warden, and John Forsythe. The film is amazing and was well-received, getting an eighty-one percent on the “Tomatometer” by Rotten Tomatoes. Al Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” while the film was also nominated for “Best writing – Original Screenplay.)

10. Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind movie poster

Inherit the Wind is a great film based upon a real-life case. The movie centers around two attorneys as they battle over the innocence or guilt of a teacher for teaching evolution in his classroom. The movie is ahead-of-its-time and tells a story everyone should be aware of.

The movie stars Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly. The Rotten Tomatoes page is down, however, IMDB gave the movie an eight-point-two out of ten. The film was nominated for four different Academy Awards (best actor in a supporting role, best writing, best cinematography – black and white, and best film editing.)

9. A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men movie poster

A Few Good Men tells the story of a military lawyer trying to defend a group of marines accused of murder. The Marines contend that they were “following orders” and cannot be held accountable. The movie questions what the military is allowed to do and what rights are restricted to all.

The film stars Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The movie received an eighty-two percent score on the “Tomatometer” from Rotten Tomatoes. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards (best picture, best actor in a supporting role, best sound, best film editing.)

8. The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer movie poster

The Lincoln Lawyer in an enthralling film about a lawyer who begins to question whether his wealthy client is guilty of more crimes than what he is defending him for. The film is incredible and told at great pace. It will question the morality of defending anyone, and sheds light on some of the moral sacrifice lawyers are often forced to make.

The movie stars Matthey McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, and Ryan Phillippe. The film received a glorious eighty-three percent on the “Tomatometer” from Rotten Tomatoes. It was also nominated for a Saturn Award for “Best Action/Adventure Film.”

7. Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich movie poster

Erin Brockovich is an inspiring based upon a true story. The movie is about a single mother forced into the limelight as she attempts to hold a dirty California power company accountable for polluting the city water’s supply. The film is an all-time great and so well done, it’s no wonder it’s so high up on this list.

The movie stars Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, and David Brisbin. The film received an eighty-four percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer”. Julia Roberts won the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role.” The movie is an absolute must-watch.

6. My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny movie poster

My Cousin Vinny is one of the most memorable lawyer movies ever made. The movie is about a loudmouthed law school graduate who hasn’t passed the bar attempting to free his cousin and his cousin’s friend who has been wrongfully accused of murder. He must make his way down the south and try to be on his best behavior as he attempts to save his family.

The movie stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, and Ralph Macchio. The movie received an eighty-five percent on the “Tomatometer” by Rotten Tomatoes. Marisa Tomei was awarded an Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role.” The film is funny, inspiring, and overall just a great experience.

5. Presumed Innocent

Presumed Innocent movie poster

Presumed Innocent is a film about a lawyer investigating the mysterious murder of one of his colleagues. After investigating, he finds all kinds of information which incriminate him.

The movie stars Harrison Ford, Raul Julia, and Greta Scacchi. The film received in eighty-seven percent on the “Tomatometer” by Rotten Tomatoes. The film also received the BMI Film Music Award. The film is compelling, well-acted, well-acted, and overall, well-done.

4. 12 Angry Men (Original)

12 Angry Men movie poster

12 Angry Men tells the tale of a trial through the perspective of the jury. Twelve men who don’t know each other are summoned to decide a verdict. They yell at each other, argue their opinions, occasionally flipflop and try their hardest to come out with the correct verdict. The movie will leave an audience thinking about the concept of “without a shadow of a doubt.”

The movie stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and Martin Balsam. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes page was unavailable, with IMDB rating the film an eight-point-nine out of ten. The movie was nominated for four different Academy Awards (best picture, best director, and best writing). The film is compelling, nerve-racking, and thought-provoking.

3. Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton movie poster

Michael Clayton is an action-packed adventure of a film. The movie is about a law firm bringing in one of their best attorneys after the previous lawyer had a mental breakdown. The star attorney must attempt to finish the case and defend the chemical company despite its guilt.

The movie stars George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson. The film received critical praise as it was awarded a ninety-percent on the “Tomatometer” from Rotten Tomatoes. Tilda Swinson was awarded for her performance, receiving the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role.”

2. Reversal of Fortune

Reversal of Fortune movie poster

Reversal of Fortune is the tale of a man held guilty of murdering his wife. She lays brain dead and the man hires a new attorney to help him with his appealing of his old guilty verdict. The film does a great job of telling a complicated and nuanced story, questioning most mores and taboos along the way.

The movie stars Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Ron Silver. The film was well-received, with Rotten Tomatoes awarding it a ninety-four percent on the “Tomatometer.” Jeremy Irons won the Academy Award for “Best Actor in Leading Role” for the film. The movie is an absolute classic and must watch.

1. The Verdict

The Verdict movie poster

The Verdict tells the story of a lawyer attempting to rebuild and save his damaged career. He decides not to do the given thing and settle out of court for a medical malpractice case, instead of taking it to court. The tale is a tale of redemption as well as the potential risks of ego.

The movie stars Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, and Jack Warden. The film was incredibly well-received and is an all-time great. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a ninety-six percent on its “Tomatometer”. The movie was also nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Director.) To not watch this film would be an absolute tragedy.

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