Law-Related Movies, Updated

In updating my law-related movies page last night for movies from 2010 for my legal research and writing website, I was only able to come up with the following 4 movies but wonder if I am missing any (and arguably True Grit is on the periphery of being a law-related movie but it was so good that it was hard to resist including it). Thoughts?

The Conspirator (2010). Directed by Robert Redford and starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood and Tom Wilkinson. James McAvoy plays the young lawyer assigned to defend Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright), the mother of the alleged co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, arrested for failing to provide the location of her son (shown at TIFF, not yet in wide release).

Conviction (2010). Directed by Tony Goldwyn and starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. Tells the true story of Bette Ann Waters, a single mother whose brother was (as it turns out) wrongfully convicted of murder. Her “conviction” in her brother’s innocence leads to her returning to school – and eventually law school – to help overturn her brother’s wrongful conviction through DNA evidence (with the help of Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project. Read Roger Ebert’s review (3 out of 4 stars).

The Social Network (2010). Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake and directed by David Fincher with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. This dramatization of the early days in the history of Facebook is told largely through flashbacks from examination for discovery transcripts related to lawsuits between the founders of Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg). Aside from the litigation issues itself, there are stories of legal intrigue relating to private equity investment and the role played by Sean Parker of Napster fame (played by Justin Timberlake), issues of intellectual property, and issues of privacy law.

True Grit (2010). Although perhaps more correctly thought of as a Western than a law-related movie, I have included the Coen Brothers version of this movie for the many law-related references made by the young girl Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld) in pursuit of the killer of her father, aided in her efforts by Marshall Rooster Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (played by Matt Damon). An excellent movie on a tale of justice with an entertaining scene early on of a criminal trial during which the character played by Jeff Bridges gives testimony on his role in capturing and shooting a gang of criminals.

The movie called The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey as a Los Angeles lawyer who works out of his Lincoln car, sounds interesting. It is apparently based on a novel of the same name and is due out March 18th.


  1. Though it is technically a 2009 film, I would suggest The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos), an Argentinian movie that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Worth a rental.

    – Andrew

  2. Thanks Andrew. I heard that was a good movie. I had intended to see it. I will add it once I see it.

  3. Hi Ted,

    Greetings from Dublin, where the only one of your four movies to have been released so far is The Social Network. However, I do think you have overlooked Shrek Forever After! I say this only sightly tongue in cheek. It’s not a courtroom drama, but it is a movie about faustian bargains exacted by Rumpelstiltskin, and the plot turns on cultural assumptions about the binding nature and literal enforcement of written contracts – even dubious contracts. I look at this in some detail in a blogpost Shrek and the Law of Contract.

    What do you think?


  4. Eoin!!!!

    Athbhliain faoi shéan duit


  5. Ted – why doesn’t your A to Z list end with Costa Gavras’Z

    The prosecutor is at the centre of the film.

  6. David: Agus leat féin!

    Ted: over on The Faculty Lounge, Tim Zinnecker argues that Despicable Me qualifies as a law-related movie too!

  7. What about Fair Game,, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, the story of the outing of Valerie Plame by the Karl Rove and Scooter Libby? That film involves violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, not to mention the Constitution.

  8. Good call on True Grit. I loved the precocious girl’s threat against the besieged pony trader to come after him with a writ of replevin (an unusual weapon to brandish in a Western, eh?).

  9. Thanks for the tip on Fair Game, another movie on my list to see and perhaps why I had overlooked it. There is of course sometimes a fine line between political thrillers and legal dramas and I don’t have hard and fast rules on what counts as a law-related movie on my site.