Ask 10 attorneys to interpret a certain law, and most of the time, all 10 of them will come back with a similar answer. The more complex the law, the more different the answers, but again they will likely be in the same realm of ideas. That is what is great about the practice of law.
Now, ask those same 10 attorneys to name who they feel are the five best movie lawyers of all time, and be prepared to get 50 different answers. The legal field is one of those professions that just seems to always find its way onto the silver screen. Whether it is a movie that shows the noble side of the industry (And Justice for All) or one that mocks a lawyer’s abilities (My Cousin Vinny) or one where a lawyer is somewhere in between (pretty much every adaptation of a John Grisham novel), attorneys are characters that movie writers love to get right and wrong.
While there are some excellent portrayals over the years, there is really only one that captures the spirt of what lawyers are supposed to be. That is Atticus Finch as played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. He is serious, focused, and aware of the fact that the law is about people. Those are three principles I strive to bring to all of my criminal and civil cases in South Carolina beyond.
The reality is that the character of Atticus Finch shines in the novel, but it is Peck’s interpretation that sets him apart. There is a reason. He defined the character and it defined Peck. He won his first Oscar (after losing four times and not having a nomination in more than a decade), but more importantly he set a standard that generations of attorneys have strived to match.