Lawyer Movies: All-Time List of Best Legal Films

Greatest Legal Films

Whether you refer to them as courtroom dramas, lawyer movies, legal films, etc., movies centering around the law, crime, and the courtroom have been entertaining and challenging moviegoers for about as long as movies have existed!

Sadly, there are very few good resources for those who are interested in lawyer films. Because of this, we have decided to compile a list of the best lawyer movies in chronological order, going all the way back to the 1930's. Not only will you encounter all-time courtroom classics, but you are also sure to discover a large number of legal films that you have never even heard of before! 

Lawyer Movies: Table of Contents

  1.  Best Lawyer Movies 2010 - 2016 
  2.  Best Lawyer Movies 2000 - 2009 
  3.  Best Lawyer Movies 1990 - 1999 
  4.  Best Lawyer Movies 1980 - 1989 
  5.  Best Lawyer Movies 1970 - 1979 
  6.  Best Lawyer Movies 1960 - 1969 
  7.  Best Lawyer Movies 1950 - 1959 
  8.  Best Lawyer Movies 1940 - 1949 
  9.  Best Lawyer Movies 1930 - 1939 
Best Lawyer Movies 2010 - 2016

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2016 

 Denial -  Historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must fight for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred, when she is sued for libel by David Irving, a well-known Holocaust denier.
 Length: 109 minutes  
 Director: Mick Jackson   
 
 Stars: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2015 

 True Story -  A discredited New York Times reporter named Michael Finkel comes into contact with Christian Longo, an accused murderer who has stolen Finkel's identity. Finkel's investigation then begins to turn into a game of cat-and-mouse.  
 
 Length: 99 minutes  
 
 Director: Rupert Goold   
 
 Stars: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2014 

 The Judge -  A Biglaw attorney named Hank Palmer goes back to his hometown where his father, who is the town judge, is accused of murder. Palmer sets out uncover what really happened while simultaneously reconnecting with his family, with whom he has strained and complicated relationships. 
 Length: 153 minutes

 Director: David Dobkin 
 Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2013 

 Devil's Knot -  The brutal killings of three children generates a controversial trial of three teenage boys accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic cult ritual. 
 Length: 114 minutes

 Director: Atom Egoyan 
 Stars: Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2012 

 Arbitrage -  A distressed hedge fund tycoon determined to complete the sale of his trading empire makes a mistake that requires him to turn to a surprising person for assistance.  
 Length: 107 minutes

 Director: Nicholas Jarecki
 Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2011 

 Puncture    - A major underdog story of a drug-addled attorney who fights a large health supply company while fighting his own personal battle with addiction.  
 Length: 100 minutes

 Directors: Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen
 Stars: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Vinessa Shaw, Marshall Bell

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2010 

 Conviction -   A hard-working mom completes law school in order to help her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has used up his chances to appeal his conviction using public defenders.
 Length: 107 minutes
 
 Director: Tony Goldwyn 
 Stars: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo 

Best Lawyer Movies 2000 - 2009

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2009 

 The Informant -  The United States government decides to go after a large agro-business conglomerate, accusing them of price-fixing, using evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president-turned-informant Mark Whitacre. 
 Length: 108 minutes

 Director: Steven Soderbergh
 Stars: Matt Damon, Tony Hale, Patton Oswalt

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2008 

 Changeling -   A grieving mother goes up against the Los Angeles Police Department to her own detriment when it attempts to pass off a clear impostor as her missing child.
 Length: 141 minutes 

 Director: Clint Eastwood
 Stars: Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2007 

 Michael Clayton -   A law firm involves its "fixer" to help fix the situation after an attorney has a mental breakdown while representing a company that he knows is guilty in a multibillion-dollar class action suit.
 Length: 119 minutes
 
Director : Tony Gilroy
 
 Stars   George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson


 Top Lawyer Movie From 2006 

 Find Me Guilty -    At the tail end of the 1980s, a small time gangster named Jackie DiNorscio defends himself in court in what became known as the longest criminal trial in US judicial history.
 Length: 125 minutes
 
 Director: Sidney Lumet
 Stars: Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Ron Silver 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2005 

 North Country -   A fictionalized telling of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the US -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who underwent abuse while working as a miner filed and won the important 1984 lawsuit.  
Length: 126 minutes
 Director: Niki Caro
 
Stars: Charlize Theron, Jeremy Renner, Frances McDormand

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2003 

 The Life of David Gale -   A man named David Gale, known for being against capital punishment, is suddenly accused of murdering a fellow activist and is ordered to death row.
 Length: 130 minutes 

 Director: Alan Parker
 Stars: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2002 

  Secretary  -  A young woman, recently released from a mental institution, finds a job as an administrative assistant to a difficult lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual one.
 Length: 107 minutes

 Director: Steven Shainberg
 Stars: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2001 

 Legally Blonde -   Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority queen gets dumped by her aristocratic boyfriend. She decides the only way to get him back is to follow him to Harvard law school, and while she is there she figures out that there is more to her than just her good looks.
 Length: 96 minutes
 
 Director: Robert Luketic 
 Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair

 Top Lawyer Movie From 2000 

 Erin Brockovich -   Unemployed single mother, Erin Brockovich, gets a job as a legal assistant and brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water, almost totally by herself.
 Length: 131 minutes 

 Director: Steven Soderbergh. 
 Stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin

Best Lawyer Movies 1990 - 1999

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1999 

 The Green Mile -   The lives of several death row guards are affected by one of the prisoners condemned to death: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift, and appears to be very kind and gentle.
 Length: (189 minutes). 

 Director: Frank Darabont
 Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1998 

 Rounders -   A reformed gambler must return to the high stakes poker tables to help a friend pay off loan sharks, while simultaneously balancing his love life and his commitments to law school. 
Length: 121 minutes
 Director: John Dahl
 Stars: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1997 

  The Rainmaker  -  A David vs. Goliath story of a lawyer who takes on a fraudulent Insurance company.
 Length: 135 minutes 

 Director: Francis Ford Coppola. 
 Stars: Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, Jon Voight

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1996 

 Night Falls on Manhattan    -  A newly elected District Attorney finds himself caught up in a police corruption investigation that potentially involves his father and his partner.
 Length: 113 minutes 
 
 Director: Sidney Lumet
 
Stars : Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss, Lena Olin, Ian Holm


 Top Lawyer Movie From 1995 

 Murder in the First -   A young attorney defends an Alcatraz prisoner who has been accused of killing another inmate, despite his client having just spent over three years in solitary confinement.
 Length: 122 minutes
 
 Director: Marc Rocco 
 Stars: Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1994 

 The Client    -  A small boy who saw the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to help protect him when the DA tries to use him to take down the mob family.
 Length: 119 minutes
 
 Director: Joel Schumacher
 Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1993 

 Philadelphia -   When a gay man with HIV is fired by his law firm because of his illness, he hires an unknown, homophobic lawyer as the only willing advocate for his wrongful dismissal suit.
 Length: 125 minutes
 
 Director: Jonathan Demme
 Stars: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Roberta Maxwell

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1992 

 A Few Good Men    -  Military lawyer Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder; they contend they were acting under orders.
 Length: 138 minutes

 Director: Rob Reiner 
Stars : Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon


 Top Lawyer Movie From 1991 

 JFK -   New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison finds out through research and secret meetings that there is more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story tells.
 Length: 189 minutes
 
 Director: Oliver Stone 
 Stars: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1990 

 Reversal of Fortune -   Rich Sunny von Bülow lies brain-dead, and husband Claus is found guilty of attempted murder; but he maintains his innocence and hires Alan Dershowitz for his appeal. 
 Length: 111 minutes
 Director: Barbet Schroeder
 
 Stars: Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver

Best Lawyer Movies 1980 - 1989

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1989 

 True Believer -   A misanthropic former civil liberties attorney now reduced to defending drug dealers becomes engrossed by an old cold case  murder.
 
 Length: 108 minutes
 
 Director: Joseph Ruben  
 
Stars : James Woods, Robert Downey Jr., Margaret Colin 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1988 

 The Accused -   After a young woman experiences a vicious gang rape in a bar, a prosecutor helps out in bringing the assailants to justice, including everyone who cheered on the attack.
 
 Length: 111 minutes   
 
 Director: Jonathan Kaplan.   
 
 Stars: Kelly McGillis, Jodie Foster, Bernie Coulson

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1987 

 Suspect -  A story of corruption in high places unfolds as a public defender takes on the case of a homeless deaf-mute man who has been arrested for the murder of a judge's secretary.  
 Length: 121 minutes 

 Director: Peter Yates 
 Stars: Cher, Dennis Quaid, Liam Neeson 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1986 

 Legal Eagles -   A New York DA works and flirts with his legal opponent and her bizarre artist client, who is on trial for a murder that she didn't commit.
 Length: 116 minutes 

 Director: Ivan Reitman. 
 Stars: Robert Redford, Debra Winger, Daryl Hannah

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1985 

 Jagged Edge -   Wealthy heiress Page Forrester is savagely murdered in her beach house. Her husband Jack is very depressed over the crime but soon finds himself accused of murder.
 Length: 108 minutes
 
 Director: Richard Marquand 
 Stars: Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Peter Coyote

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1984 

 A Soldier's Story -   An African American military officer looks into a murder in a racially charged situation in World War II.
 Length: 101 minutes
 
 Director: Norman Jewison 
 Stars: Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Art Evans

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1982 

 The Verdict -   An attorney sees his chance to salvage his career and self-respect by deciding to take a medical malpractice case to trial as opposed to settling out of court.
 Length: 129 minutes 
 
 Director: Sidney Lumet
 
Stars : Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden


 Top Lawyer Movie From 1981 

 Absence of Malice -   When a prosecutor leaks an untrue story that a warehouse owner is involved in the murder of a local union head, the man's life begins to come apart.
 
 Length: 116 minutes
 
 Director: Sydney Pollack
 
Stars : Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban 


 Top Lawyer Movie From 1980 

 Breaker Morant -   Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for killings prisoners as a way of diverting attention from war crimes committed by their superiors.
 
Length: 107 minutes
 Director: Bruce Beresford  
 
 Stars: Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters

Best Lawyer Movies 1970 - 1979

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1979 

 ...And Justice for All -   An attorney is forced to defend a guilty judge, while still helping other innocent clients, and trying to find punishment for the guilty and provide justice for the innocent.
 Length: 119 minutes
 
 Director: Norman Jewison 
 Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1978 

 The Medusa Touch -   Psychological thriller about a telekinetic author who can cause disasters simply by thinking about them.
 Length: 105 minutes

 Director: Jack Gold
 Stars: Richard Burton, Lee Remick, Lino Ventura

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1975 

 Conduct Unbecoming -   At a British Regimental party in Colonial India, the widow of a captain is assaulted, and she accuses one of the newly arrived junior lieutenants of committing the crime.
 Length: 107 minutes

 Director: Michael Anderson 
 Stars: Michael York, Richard Attenborough, Trevor Howard

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1973 

 The Paper Chase -   A 1L law student at Harvard has trouble balancing his schoolwork and his relationship with the daughter of his toughest professor.
 Length: 113 minutes

 Director: James Bridges 
 Stars: Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, John Houseman 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1971 

 Bananas -   When a clumsy New Yorker is broken up with by his activist girlfriend, he ventures to a small Latin American country and becomes involved in its latest rebellion.
 Length: 82 minutes
 
 Director: Woody Allen 
 Stars: Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalbán 

Best Lawyer Movies 1960 - 1969

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1968 

 Hostile Witness -   When a successful barrister's daughter is killed, in what seems to be a hit and run, and the police cannot find the culprit, he swears that he will find the driver of the car, and have his revenge.
 Length: 101 minutes
 
 Director: Ray Milland 
 Stars: Ray Milland, Sylvia Syms, Felix Aylmer 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1967 

 In Cold Blood -  A rural family is brutally murdered during a botched robbery attempt, and the two drifters who committed the crimes elude police, though in the end they come to terms with their own mortality and the repercussions of their horrible crimes. 
 Length: 134 minutes 

 Director: Richard Brooks 
 Stars: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1966 

 The Fortune Cookie    -  A dishonest attorney sways his brother-in-law to fake a serious injury. Length: 125 minutes 
 Director: Billy Wilder
 Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ron Rich, Judi West

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1963 

 Twilight of Honor -   A difficult murder case is assigned to a young defense attorney. He asks his old dying friend, a lawyer legend, for consulting help on the case.
 Length: 104 minutes
 
 Director: Boris Sagal 
 Stars: Richard Chamberlain, Nick Adams, Claude Rains

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1962 

 To Kill a Mockingbird -   Atticus Finch, a kindhearted lawyer in the Depression-era South, helps defend a black man against an untrue rape allegation, while protecting his children from prejudice.
 Length: 129 minutes
 
 Director: Robert Mulligan 
 Stars: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1961 

 Judgment at Nuremberg -   In this 1948 courtroom drama, an American court in occupied Germany takes four Nazi judges to trial for war crimes.
 Length: 186 minutes

 Director: Stanley Kramer  
 
 Stars: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1960 

 Inherit the Wind -   Based on the real-life Scope Trial, two esteemed lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.
 Length: 128 minutes

 Director: Stanley Kramer 
 Stars: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly

Best Lawyer Movies 1950 - 1959

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1959 

 Anatomy of a Murder -   In a murder trial, the defendant says he only killed the man after suffering temporary insanity when the victim raped his wife.
 Length: 160 minutes 

 Director: Otto Preminger 
 Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1958 

 I Want to Live! -   A prostitute, sentenced to death for murder, pleads her innocence.
 Length: 120 minutes 

 Director: Robert Wise 
 Stars: Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1957 

 12 Angry Men -   Taking place almost entirely in a jury deliberation room, a jury holdout forces his colleagues to reconsider the evidence after realizing the defendant isn't as guilty as the other jurors think.
 Length: 96 minutes
 
 Director: Sidney Lumet 
 Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1956 

 The Wrong Man -     An innocent man named "Manny" Balestrero is taken into custody after being mistaken for an armed robber.
 Length: 105 minutes 

 Director: Alfred Hitchcock
 Stars: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1955 

 Trial - Trial is  about a Mexican boy accused of rape and murder, who becomes a pawn of his communist defender, whose propaganda purposes would prefer to see a guilty verdict.
 Length: 105 minutes
 Director: Mark Robson
 Stars
Glenn Ford, Dorothy McGuire, Arthur Kennedy

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1954 

 The Caine Mutiny -   When a Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that could negatively impact the ship and crew, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court martial for mutiny.
 Length: 124 minutes 

 Director: Edward Dmytryk
 Stars: Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1953 

 Count the Hours! -   An attorney defends a migrant worker falsely accused of two murders.
Length: 76 minutes

 Director: Don Siegel 
 Stars: Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey, Dolores Moran 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1951 

 Awaara (The Vagabond) -   Awaara centers on the intertwining lives of poor Raj and privileged Rita.
 Length: 88 minutes
 
 Director: Raj Kapoor
 Stars: Prithviraj Kapoor, Nargis, Raj Kapoor

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1950 

 The Magnificent Yankee -   Biographical depiction of celebrated American Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
 Length: 89 minutes

 Director: John Sturges 
 Stars: Louis Calhern, Ann Harding, Eduard Franz

Best Lawyer Movies 1940 - 1949

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1949 

 Adam's Rib -   Professional and domestic tensions arise when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case featuring a woman who shot her husband.
 Length: 101 minutes

 Director: George Cukor 
 Stars: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1948 

 The Winslow Boy -   In pre-WWI England, a young boy is expelled from the naval academy over a small theft, and his parents raise a political furor by demanding a trial.
 Length: 117 minutes 

 Director: Anthony Asquith 
 Stars: Robert Donat, Cedric Hardwicke, Basil Radford

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1947 

 The Paradine Case -   A happily married London barrister falls in love with the accused murderer he is attempting to defend.
 Length: 125 minutes 

 Director: Alfred Hitchcock
 Stars: Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1946 

 A Matter of Life and Death -   A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.
 Length: 104 minutes 

 Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger 
 Stars: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1941 

 A Woman's Face -   A female blackmailer with facial scarring meets up with a plastic surgeon who offers her the possibility of looking normal again.
 
 Length: 106 minutes
 
 Director: George Cukor  
 
Stars : Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas, Conrad Veidt


Best Lawyer Movies 1930 - 1939

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1939 

 Young Mr. Lincoln -   A fictionalized account of the early life of Abraham Lincoln as a young lawyer getting ready for his most important court case.
 Length: 100 minutes

 Director: John Ford
 Stars: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1938 

 Wives Under Suspicion -   A prosecutor trying a case where a husband kills his cheating wife begins to think that his own wife is having an affair, and starts to have his own ideas about killing her.
 Length: 69 minutes

 Director: James Whale 
 Stars: Warren William, Gail Patrick, Constance Moore

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1937 

 They Won't Forget -   A politically ambitious DA, crooked tabloid journalists, and regional prejudice all come together to charge a teacher with the murder of his student.
 Length: 95 minutes

 Director: Mervyn LeRoy 
 Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1936 

 Fury -   When a wrongly accused prisoner survives a lynch mob attack and is presumed dead, he  decides to fake his own death and frame the mob for his supposed murder.
 Length: 92 minutes

 Director: Fritz Lang
 Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Spencer Tracy, Walter Abel

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1934 

 The Witching Hour -  A gambler with clairvoyant and hypnotic powers, accidentally hypnotizes a young man, who then kills an enemy of the gambler. No one believes that the young man didn't have any murderous intent, so the gambler teams up with a retired lawyer in hopes of saving the young man from death row.  
 Length: 69 minutes
 
 Director: Henry Hathaway 
 Stars: Guy Standing, John Halliday, William Frawley

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1933 

 The Kiss Before the Mirror -   When a renowned doctor kills his cheating wife, he is defended by his best friend, a lawyer--who suspects that his own wife might be having an affair.
 Length: 69 minutes 

 Director: James Whale
 Stars: Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, Paul Lukas 

 Top Lawyer Movie From 1930 

 For the Defense -    A lawyer's ethics are put to the test when the woman he loves hits and kills a pedestrian while out driving with another man.
 Length: 65 minutes
 
 Director: John Cromwell 
 Stars: William Powell, Kay Francis, Scott Kolk 


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