Lawyer Movies: Top 35 Law Movies

When you think of lawyer movies or legal movies, you may think of dramatic courtroom trials. But the list of lawyer movies, from comedies to dramas, is a fantastic list of legal movies that will make you laugh and think. Lawyer films, law films, courtroom films are among the categories that are of little interest among moviegoers, so they do not have a very large archive. But don’t let this detail bother you because very high quality cult films are in this category. The best lawyer movies and the best legal movies from the past to the present are with you in this list with the IMDb score ranking of 35 movies!

35) Legally Blonde – How Blonde Is That! (2001) | IMDb: 6.4

Director: Robert Luketic

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Matthew Davis

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

In Legally Blonde based on Amanda Brown’s novel, Elle Woods is the fashion icon of a California sorority. Elle is dumped by her boyfriend Warner. She decides the only way to win her boyfriend back is to follow him to Harvard Law School and enters Harvard. While her primary goal is to win back Warner, Elle struggles to overcome the challenges of being a first-year law student. However, he soon falls in love with the legal profession. His life takes a turn when he begins to realize that he has the potential to be a great lawyer.

34) Jagged Edge – Blade Edge(1985) | IMDb: 6.5

Director: Richard Marquand

Cast: Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

Rich Page Forrester is brutally murdered at his beach house. His wife, Jack, is blamed for her death. Lawyer Teddy Barnes (Glenn) reluctantly takes on the case of publisher Jack Forrester, who is accused of murdering his wife for her money. Teddy tumbles over whether Jack is an innocent man or a cunning, manipulative killer. As the trial progresses, he considers Jack not guilty and defends himself better. The prosecutor of the case, on the other hand, is sure that Jack is guilty.

33) Night Falls on Manhattan – Before Dark (1996) | IMDb: 6.6

Director: Sydney Lumet

Cast: Andy Garcia, Lena Olin, Richard Dreyfuss

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Former cop and new attorney Sean Casey (Garcia) is unexpectedly assigned to prosecute a case against drug dealer Jordan Washington (Shiek Mahmud). Washington’s lawyer, Sam Vigoda (Dreyfuss), claims his client was covered up by the police. But Casey wins the case and soon becomes the county district attorney. Prosecutor Casey takes part in a police corruption investigation involving her father and business partner. He finds evidence that there was indeed corruption, and that his father, Liam (Ian Holm), was involved.

32) Denial – Denial (2016) | IMDb: 6.7

Director: Mick Jackson

Cast: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

British writer David Irving 2. He argues that the Holocaust did not take place in World War II. American Professor Historian Deborah Lipstadt, on the other hand, is fighting a legal battle against Irving, arguing that the Holocaust took place. The movie is an adaptation of the book Denial: Holocauts History on Trial.

31) The Firm – Company (1993) | IMDb: 6.8

Director: Sydney Pollack

Cast: Tom Cruise

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Young lawyer Mitch McDeere (Cruise) gets a job at a small but prestigious law firm. As he begins to take cases, he realizes that the clients in the firm are people from the criminal world. The company has been involved in events ranging from laundering mob money, clearing customers of charges, and even killing partners who threatened to expose them. A tough choice awaits Mitch when the FBI calls to gather evidence about the lawyer’s colleagues. The Firm is based on the 1991 novel The Firm (John Grisham).

30) Presumed Innocent – Under Suspicion (1990) | IMDb: 6.9

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Cast: Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Attorney General Raymond Horgan (Dennehy) enlists his assistant, Rusty Sabitch (Harrison Ford), to investigate the rape and murder case of his colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi). During the mission, Horgan is unaware that Polhemus and Sabich are involved in an affair. As the evidence points to Sabich, he tries to find the real killer. Sabich is forced to call his defense attorney Sandy Stern (Raul Julia) to assist him in his defense.

29) Secretary – Secretary (2002) | IMDb: 7.0

Director: Steven Shainberg

Cast: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal), a young woman with severe emotional problems, is placed in the care of her overbearing parents after her stay in a mental institution. She gets a job as the secretary to E. Edward Gray (Spader), a tough and demanding lawyer. Spader is dominant and obsessive (he has a fetish for sorting red pencils in his desk drawer). Lee starts dating the kind but boring Peter (Jeremy Davies). However, Lee soon realizes that he is impressed by Gray’s harsh demeanor and begins a sadomasochistic relationship with her. There are small, subtle signs in the movie where the lawyer and the secretary step out of their roles and wink. Their behavior aimed at expressing hostility eventually develops into a deeper understanding of each other’s natures and needs.

28) The Rainmaker – Rainmaker (1997) | IMDb: 7.2

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

In The Rainmaker, one of the first movies that comes to mind when it comes to lawyer movies, struggling young lawyer Rudy Baylor (Damon) tries hard to get into a big company. He finally achieves his goal and starts working for a questionable lawyer (Mickey Rourke). After starting the job, he learns that there is another side to justice, but it will take a long time for him to accept it. Rudy must defend the rights of a 22-year-old boy with leukemia against a major insurance company. Without the money from the insurance, the treatment of the child is impossible. The movie, which includes a tough legal battle, is worth watching.

27) Michael Clayton – Lawyer (2007) | IMDb: 7.2

Director: Tony Gilroy

Cast: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Former prosecutor Michael Clayton (Clooney) works as a “problem solver” at one of New York’s largest law firms and takes care of his employer’s dirty work. Clayton is an extremely committed man, exhausted by his gambling debts. Clayton faces the biggest challenge of his career when a criminal lawyer (Tom Wilkinson) collapses during a major class action lawsuit. His duty is to prevent this disaster. George Clooney gave one of the best character acting performances of his career, making this movie special among lawyer movies.

26) Amistad (1997) | IMDb: 7.3

Director: Steven Speilberg

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Set in 1839, Amistad tells the story of a slave ship from Cuba to the United States. During the long journey, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads the slaves into a hitherto unprecedented uprising. After this uprising, slaves were held captive in Connecticut. Cinque is a strong character who is brutally torn from his family and village. Theodore Joadson, a freed slave played by Morgan Freeman, learns of their plight and enlists the help of property lawyer Roger Baldwin (McCaughnehey) to defend them.

25) The Lincoln Lawyer – In the Dark of the Sun (2011) | IMDb: 7.3

Director: Brad Furman

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Philippe

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a charismatic defense attorney with an office in Los Angeles. Mick spends most of his time defending petty criminals and petty crimes. Mick encounters the case of his life one day. A wealthy Beverly Hills playboy named Louis Ross Roulet is accused of murder. Luck is on Mick’s side because the criminal chose him as his lawyer. Mick first thinks it’s too easy. However, he soon learns that there is much more to him than meets the eye, and that this case is linked to his previous case.

24) North Country – Alone (2005) | IMDb: 7.3

Director: Niki Caro

Cast: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

This film, which has a very important place among lawyer films, is about the first major sexual harassment case in the USA. Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) is one of a group of women who work at a local iron mine in Minnesota. Disturbed because they have to work with women, male workers at the Eveleth Mines attack the women. Women are subjected to sexual harassment. Horrified by the constant insults, obscene language and physical abuse, Josey files a historic sexual harassment suit despite warnings from family and friends.

23) Erin Brockovich – Sweet Trouble (2000) | IMDb: 7.4

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Julia Roberts , Albert Finney, Aoran Eckhart

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Unemployed single mom Erin Brockovich takes a job as a legal assistant and single-handedly crashes a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water. First, Erin stumbles upon some medical records placed in real estate files. When Ed starts working at Masry’s firm, he convinces Ed to start an investigation. Erin takes a fierce legal battle against the giant energy company Pacific Gas and Electric after learning of an incident that exposed a local community to polluted water and caused serious illness.

22) The Judge – The Judge (2014) | IMDb: 7.4

Director: David Dobkin

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga

Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.), a brilliant but dark lawyer, returns to his hometown of Indiana after learning that his mother has passed away. Hank’s arrival reignites tensions from the past with his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall). As the lawyer prepares to leave, his father is arrested after being accused of a murder. Hank takes on his father’s defense, despite the offended old man’s objections. As Palmer reconnects with his family, with whom he has tense and complicated relationships, he begins to uncover what really happened.

21) A Time to Kill (1996) | IMDb: 7.5

Director: Joel Schumacher

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

Carl Lee Hailey (L. Jackson) is a father trying to avenge his raped daughter. Hailey, who shoots the bigoted men who raped her daughter as the criminals are on trial, enlists the help of a lawyer, Jake Brigance (McConaughey), to defend herself. Brigance knows it will be a very difficult case due to Hailey’s race and intentional crimes, and she thinks she can’t acquit Hailey. However, Carl has unwavering faith in him.

20) The Devil’s Advocate (1997) | IMDb: 7.5

Director: Taylor Hackford

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino , Charlize Theron

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Florida defense attorney Kevin Lomax (Reeves) accepts a high-powered position at a New York law firm led by John Milton (Al Pacino). As Kevin rises to the top of the company, his mentally ill wife, Mary Ann (Theron), experiences increasingly violent, frightening mystical events. As Kevin struggles with his wife’s illness, he learns about some of his boss’ activities and realizes that he is not who he claims to be. Mary begins to lose her sense of reality in every event.

19) The Life of David Gale – Between Death and Life (2003) | IMDb: 7.5

Director: Alan Parker

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney

Rotten Tomatoes: 19%

David Gale (Spacey) is a man who has tried hard to live by his principles. However, by a strange twist of fate, this devoted father finds himself in a murder case. A man named David Gale, who is known to oppose the death penalty, is suddenly accused of murdering an activist friend and sentenced to death. Just three days before his execution, David Gale agrees to give an exclusive interview to persistent reporter Bitsey Bloom (Winslet).

18) My Cousin Vinny – My Cousin Vinny (1992) | IMDb: 7.6

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Cast: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Written by Dale Launer, My Cousin Vinny follows two teenagers, Bill Gambini and Stan Rothenstein, who are arrested and charged with murder while traveling through rural Alabama. The fate of these men rests in the hands of Bill’s cousin and attorney Vincent Gambini (Vinny), who barely passed the bar exam. New Yorker Vinny has never won a lawsuit until then. Vinny does his best to defend his cousin and his cousin’s friend. But he makes a series of missteps throughout the case. Vinny’s fiancee, Mona Lisa, assists him in his defence.

17) Dark Waters – Dark Waters (2019) | IMDb: 7.6

Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

A dogged lawyer uncovers a dark secret that links a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world’s largest corporations. He decides to file an environmental lawsuit against a powerful chemical company by revealing the history of environmental pollution. While trying to prove the truth, he soon realizes that he is risking his future, his family, and his own life.

16) RBG (2018) | IMDb: 7.6

Director: Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Cast: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Nina Totenberg

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

An intimate portrait of the rock star of Justice: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG chronicles Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career spanning decades and how she has developed a legal legacy while becoming a pop culture icon. Ginsburg openly answers questions about abortion and discrimination in Senate confirmation sessions and raises issues. She portrays a very idealistic woman for the political environment of the time. The filmmakers reveal how the first legal wars changed the world for women with this film.

15) Sleepers – They Were Like Brothers (1996) | IMDb: 7.6

Director: Barry Levinson

Cast: Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Robert DeNiro

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

After a prank gone wrong, four young friends from Hell’s Kitchen are convicted of murdering a man. The children are sent to the wet house. There they are brutally beaten by the guards. They are abused by some correctional officers. John (Ron Eldard) and Tommy (Billy Crudup) grow up to be hitmen who recognize and kill their abuser years later. Thirteen years after being released from the detention center, they avenge one of the guards. The other two boys are in a unique position to expose the guards and help their friends get away with their crimes, in a courtroom…

14) Philadelphia (1993) | IMDb: 7.7

Director: Jonathan Demme

Cast: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington , Jason Robards

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

Philadephia, which is one of the prominent films among lawyer films in terms of its subject, won the Best Actor Oscar for the leading actor Tom Hanks. HIV-positive gay lawyer Andrew Beckett (Hanks) keeps the secret at his Philadelphia law firm, fearing that his condition will jeopardize his career. But her secret is revealed when a colleague notices the obvious symptoms of the disease. Fired soon after, Beckett decides to sue for discrimination by teaming up with homophobic lawyer Joe Miller (Washington), who is willing to help. In court, they face Belinda Conine (Mary Steenburgen), one of her former employer’s top lawyers.

13) The Verdict – The Verdict (1982) | IMDb: 7.7

Director: Sydney Kumet

Cast: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, James Mason

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Frank Galvin (Newman) is a promising lawyer who has been fired from a Boston law firm. At the beginning of the movie, Galvin agrees to take on a medical malpractice case. Faced with a major case of medical malpractice, weary, alcoholic Galvin initially thinks he can solve the case. As the case progresses, he realizes that he is not quite what he seems. This lawsuit gives it all, as Frank Galvin gets the chance to save his career and self-esteem with this lawsuit.

12) Primal Fear – First Fear (1996) | IMDb: 7.7

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Ed Norton

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Defense attorney Martin Vail (Gere) chooses his cases to earn money and reputation. His latest case concerns a boy accused of brutally murdering the Chicago archbishop. In this case, Vail comes face-to-face with his former student and ex-girlfriend. As the case progresses and the Church’s dark secrets begin to emerge. Over time, Martin Vail realizes that the murder case, which seemed like a simple case to him, has become darker and more dangerous.

11) A Man for All Seasons (1966) | IMDb: 7.7

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Cast: Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

The 1966 film, which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Paul Scofield), tells the story of a man who knows who he is. Highly respected English Catholic devotee Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) learns of the King’s plans to end his marriage to Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn. When Henry is declared “Supreme Head of the Church in England”, More, conscientiously unable to serve as chancellor any longer, takes action to leave the royal court, adhering to his religious principles. Sir Thomas is loved by the public and his silence is interpreted as disapproval. The King and his men are not happy about this and try to humiliate More with charges of treason, further testing his resolve.

10) A Few Good Men (1992) | IMDb: 7.7

Director: Rob Reiner

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Written by Aaron Sorkin, A Few Good Men tells the story of Daniel Kaffee (Cruise), a lawyer defending two Marines accused of killing another sailor in Guantanamo Bay. Famous for her defenses, attorney Anne Galloway (Moore) convinces Kaffee she shouldn’t seek a plea bargain for the Marines. Anne tells Kaffee that the Marines are acting on Colonel Nathan Jessep’s orders. Kaffee takes a big risk by calling Colonel Nathan R. Jessep (Nicholson) to the stand to uncover the conspiracy.

9) Kramer vs. Kramer – Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) | IMDb: 7.8

Director: Robert Benton

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Merly Streep, Justin Henry

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Manhattan-based advertising executive Ted Kramer (Hoffman) learns that his wife Joanna (Streep) has left him and their young son Billy (Justin Henry). Having to raise his son alone, Ted builds a strong relationship with his son despite losing his advertising job. With the help of single parent Margaret (Jane Alexander), her relationship with the boy grows stronger. Joanna returns to take custody of Billy. A fierce court battle ensues, with serious consequences for everyone involved.

8) In Cold Blood (1967) | IMDb: 7.9

Director: Richard Brooks

Cast: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

In Cold Blood is based on Truman Capote’s groundbreaking true event crime novel. Ex-cons Perry Smith (Blake) and Richard “Dick” Hickock (Wilson) hatch a plan to rob the Clutters, a wealthy Kansas family. The men enter the house, hoping to find a safe full of cash. But they don’t get what they hope for and they can’t find any money. They flee in anger, killing the whole family. On the run from the police, two thugs face the harsh realities of their crimes and death.

7) JFK – The File That Doesn’t Close (1991) | IMDb: 8.0

Director: Oliver Stone

Cast: Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Costner) leads the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Through research and secret meetings, he learns that there is more to the true story of the Kennedy assassination than is told. When Garrison begins to doubt official thinking about the murder, he faces resistance from the government. After the murder of suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman), the prosecutor closes the case. Later, however, Garrison reopens the investigation, finding evidence of an extensive conspiracy behind Kennedy’s death.

6) Anatomy of a Murder – Analysis of a Murder (1959) | IMDb: 8.0

Director: Otto Preminger

Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

One of the first cult films that come to mind when it comes to lawyer films and courtroom films, this film was nominated for eleven awards along with seven Oscars. It has won eight awards, including a Grammy Award. Former prosecutor and new attorney Paul Biegler (Stewart) receives a case to defend young lieutenant Manion. The lieutenant’s wife, Laura Manion (Remick), is raped by a bar owner. The lieutenant kills the bar owner and does not deny his guilt. Biegler and his team, who argue that he has a rightful reason for committing the crime, make great efforts to illuminate the incident. The majority of the three-hour long film takes place in the courtroom.

5) In the Name of the Father – For My Father (1993) | IMDb: 8.1

Director: Jim Sheridan

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Emma Thompson

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Unemployed young Irishman Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) makes a living by stealing in Belfast. In the 70s he escapes from Belfast to London. She meets her friend Paul Hill (John Lynch) there and starts living with the teenagers in a squat. Gerry is blamed for a bar bombing on the night of 1974, but has nothing to do with it. He is subjected to intense torture and his father is imprisoned for being an accomplice. Will Gerry, who has been imprisoned for nearly 15 years, be able to get out of prison after years of efforts by attorney Gareth? The film won seven Oscars in total. It’s destined to be the best lawyer movie of all time!

4) Inherit the Wind (1960) | IMDb: 8.1

Director: Stanley Kramer

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

We continue with the cult movie Inherit the Wind. In the 1920s, Tennessee teacher Bertram Cates (Dick York) is prosecuted for violating the Butler Act, a state law that prohibits public school teachers from teaching the theory of evolution. With the news of author EK Hornbeck (Kelly), this case begins to receive intense national attention in the media. Two of the nation’s leading lawyers face off in this case as well: Matthew Harrison Brady (March) for the prosecution and Henry Drummond (Tracy) for the defence. The case goes beyond a personal case and revolves around two issues that have been at war with each other for centuries: religion and science. Inherit The Wind is definitely one of the most important among lawyer movies, as defense issues are the subject of centuries-old conflict.

3) Judgment at Nuremberg – The Nuremberg Trial (1961) | IMDb: 8.2

Director: Stanley Kramer

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Set in the late 1940s after World War II, this political drama is one of the most striking of any lawyer films. The film is a note falling into history, with the subject of the Nazis tried in an American court in Germany. Four German judges accused of war crimes against humanity will be brought before a military court and tried. Chief Justice Haywood (Tracy) listens to evidence and testimony not only from the lead defendant Ernst Janning (Lancaster) and defense attorney Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell), but also from the widow of an idealistic Nazi general (Marlene Dietrich). Although the film is made in the USA, it is one of the first objective films that come to mind when it comes to lawyer films. It won two Oscars.

2) Witness for the Prosecution – The Unexpected Witness (1957) | IMDb: 8.4

Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Based on a story by Agatha Cristie, the cheerful man Leonard Vole is tried for the murder of wealthy widow Emily French. Legendary lawyer Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Laughton) joins the case to defend him. It points to Leonard with all the evidence because before Emily died, she showed Leonard as the sole heir to all her wealth. Verification of Leonard’s defense in court depends on the testimony of his callous wife, Christine (Marlene Dietrich). In a shocking turn of events, Christine decides to appear in court and testify against him. Sir Wilfrid does his best to defend his client and close the case, but things don’t quite go as easily as he expected. The movie won six Oscars.

1) 12 Angry Men – 12 Angry Men (1957) | IMDb: 9.0

Director: Sydney Lumet

Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Here we come to the biggest production on our list of lawyer movies! The number one movie to make is of course 12 Angry Men! After the closing debates in a murder case, the 12 members of the jury must lock themselves in a room and reach a final verdict. A dozen men who will decide the fate of a poor young man accused of murdering his father must pass a verdict of death or acquittal for him. The young man’s defense failed to persuade the jury. All jurors find the teenager guilty, except for juror number 8 Davis (Henry Fonda). Davis raises several questionable situations to discuss with the other jurors. As the debate continues, many of the jurors are forced to confront some aspects of the case that they initially rejected. Gradually the other jurors’ opinions begin to change, but will Davis be able to secure a majority?


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