Books, Movies & Events That Changed Perspectives on the Law

2024 Feature Nominations

In the latest READERS RESPOND, we asked attorneys to tell us about a book, movie or event that changed their perspective on the practice of law.

Adam’s Rib—I love that Kathryn Hepburn goes toe to toe with Spencer Tracy at a time when few women had the option to practice law let alone best a successful male attorney.

Ann Morgan, President of State Bar of Nevada

Jerry MacGuire. While I was in law school, I thought I would be a sports agent. We don’t always get to pick. I thought I would be a sports agent until I was offered an internship in New York and I went home to my parents who were helping me financially at the time. I told them I wanted to go to New York for three months and my conservative father said, ‘Well, where are you going to live?’ and I told him I’d find an apartment. He said, ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’ That’s when I knew it wasn’t going to work. I did really want to be a sports agent because of Jerry MacGuire. I’m not a sports agent, and it all worked out OK. I’m very happy practicing bankruptcy law.

— Brad Sadek, Sadek and Cooper, Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer

There’s one movie that really struck me and I guess illustrated why I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and frankly why I still enjoy being a lawyer. “Philadelphia” came out in the early ’90s starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. There’s a scene in that movie when initially Denzel did not want the case because he harbored many of the same prejudices that Tom Hank’s law firm did. In the law library where they happened to encounter one another, Hanks and Denzel had kind of a defining moment where they were researching the law together and they began reading from the same case together. In that case it described the essence of discrimination and the notion of judging people based on a set of unusual characteristics. And that really spoke to me in a very deep way. To this day, whenever that movie comes on, I have to watch it to conclusion.

The other scene that I found particularly moving and very inspiring was when Tom Hanks is on the stand and Denzel asks him ‘What do you like about being a lawyer?” Hanks says, “Every now and then, it doesn’t happen often, you get to be a part of justice being done.” That’s how I feel about being an attorney.

— Robert Ford, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Houston

“My Cousin Vinny,” I just love that movie. I think it shows the inefficiencies of the court system and how it can really affect somebody’s life. It just takes someone who’s passionate, who’s willing to fight the good fight to overcome these deficiencies and things can work out in the end.

— Judge Shelia Calloway, Juvenile Court Judge, Nashville

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” the book, the movie and the play (which we saw in New York last summer). Atticus Finch is the bellwether for what attorneys ought to do. One should always do the right thing even if it is unpopular.

— Ann Peldo Cargile, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Nashville


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