October 12th 2017 | Updated November 17th 2017

Lawyer Movies: All-Time List of Best 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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Free Case Evaluation

Call 386-777-7777

Or fill in the form below and we’ll call you.
Better Business Bureau
AVVO Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Peer Rated for High Professional Acheivement
Client Champion - 2018
ATA Lifetime
Verdict Search