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Five film/TV show recommendations for law students (part one)

Five film/TV show recommendations for law students (part one)

Anisa Rahman Choudhury


Reading time: three minutes

It’s no secret that the portrayal of the legal world on TV is often dramatised and wildly inaccurate. Nevertheless, the shows and films I’ve put together can actually be helpful for law students, whether it’s for education or mere entertainment purposes. If watching legal dramas provides motivation for your studies or helps you retain just a few nuggets of useful information, they still have value. In fact, a Suits episode once helped me ask a question about the stock market in an interview! Below are my top 10 films/shows and takeaways. 

1) Just Mercy 

Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, this film is based off the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, a death row defence attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The film tells the true and moving story of Walter ‘Johnny D’ Macmillan, who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Just Mercy is a deeply insightful look into the US criminal justice system and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative, spurring my interest in the death penalty. From this, I’ve successfully become a death penalty caseworker and have had the opportunity to assist with live cases. I highly recommend this film as an introduction to the injustice in death row litigation. I’d also advise you to read the book first as Bryan Stevenson’s storytelling is simply incredible.

2) How to Get Away with Murder

This is very different to the first suggestion but still a worthwhile watch. How to Get Away with Murder is a highly acclaimed legal drama thriller show on Netflix. It stars Viola Davies as Annalise Keating, a defence attorney and law professor who helps her students cover the murder of her husband! Sounds interesting, right? I really enjoyed this show as each episode covers a different case, so I saw many elements of criminal law and courtroom advocacy. Overall, it’s an entertaining and easy watch, keeping you gripped for all six seasons. 

3) To Kill a Mockingbird

This novel turned movie is another must-watch. It’s a stereotype that all aspiring human rights barristers were inspired by the righteous lawyer Atticus Finch, and I unfortunately fall right into this stereotype. Again, I’d recommend reading the book first, but the movie delivers on author Harper Lee’s themes of racial injustice, class and compassion in the US deep South. It’s a fictional story about the childhood of Scout and Jem Finch, whose father defends a Black man falsely accused of rape in the depression era. It speaks volumes for how life and the law was during this period and is a classic that should be added to your watch list.

4) 12 Angry Men

This legal drama is one of the most unique and best films I’ve ever watched. When an eighteen-year-old man is accused of murdering his father, all the jurors believe he’s guilty except one. Most of the movie takes place just in the juror room but is so cleverly constructed and performed. When I was young, my father put it on and we were both surprised by how much we enjoyed it. It fantastically explores jury dynamics, the principles behind the legal system and the burden of proof. Cited by some as the greatest movie of all time, I’d recommend this to any law student, particularly those who have an interest in prosecution and criminal law. 

5) Trial of the Chicago Seven

This historical legal drama film has an A-list celebrity cast and follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Having never heard of the Chicago Seven, I didn’t have high hopes for it. However, this film is excellently made and compelling throughout. The film isn't entirely accurate but I learnt a lot from it. Fundamentally, I’d recommend the film for its passion and illustration of legal injustices.

I hope this fun blog was helpful, introduced you to some classics and sparked an interest in an area of law you may have not otherwise known. Have fun watching!