Issue 7, Semester 1, 2019
The Easter break is near, and with it comes the lie you've told yourself: that you'll use it to catch up. Since you're going to procrastinate, maybe at the very least you can make it a bit more justifiable (in your head). It's not procrastination if it's inspiration. Surely, you'll study better overall if you're more inspired. As such, I present to you my list of the top ten legal dramas and films that every JD student absolutely must watch.
Author's Note: This isn't a list of best legal productions of all time. I know that there are plenty of amazing works that won't be here. Factors that I considered were: humour, popularity amongst the JD cohort, recency, my target audience, and my personal opinion.
10. How to Get Away with Murder (2014–) This show does not deserve to be called a legal drama. The story occurs in a law school, with law students and law teachers. But don’t be fooled, the only law school it resembles is probably what the average Legal Studies 3/4 student thinks law school is. Wes Gibson, all in his first day of law school, reaches the top of his class, gets recruited at a law firm, participates in a deposition and appears in court, all without doing any readings. The story is pretty interesting though.
Verdict: Mindless thriller — 5/10
9. Suits (2011–) *Seasons 1 & 2 ONLY*
Wow, being a lawyer seems so cool! Especially the part where you don't go to law school. Mike Ross is an insult to every single law student and lawyer who has ever existed. I was really going to leave this one out if it weren't for the fact that 80% of the JD cohort has watched Suits. If you're part of the minority that hasn't watched Suits, congratulations - you're studying law for the right reasons.
Verdict: Corporate law porn — 6/10
8. A Few Good Men (1992)
This is one giant advertisement for the LSS Witness Examination Competition. It's probably what everyone participating in witness thought it'd be like when they signed up. The film is basically just known for one quote. It's totally worth it though.
Verdict: Tom Cruise is a lawyer — 7/10
7. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Ever skip jury duty? Yeah, me neither. But for those who did, this is what you missed out on. 12 Angry Men follows the story of an American jury as they all attempt one huge hypothetical without having to do I, R, and A. I know you’re probably sick of engaging with stuff written before the 1960s, but this film is considered one of the greatest films (not just legal films) of all time.
Verdict: This one is a bucket list movie — 7.5/10
6. The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016)
"What do you study?"
"Oh, that’s cool! So you want to be a lawyer?"
"OMG what if you have to defend someone guilty?"
Verdict: Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro give Michael Jordan and Larry Bird a real run for their money — 8/10
5. The Social Network (2010)
Okay, so I know this isn't really a legal drama but it's such an amazing film. Told through the lens of a deposition, you get to witness Mark's OG "zucc" in one of the most famous legal disputes in start-up history.
Verdict: You better lawyer up, asshole — 8.5/10
4. Billions (2016–)
Based off the famous rivalry between New York District Attorney Preet Bharara and hedge fund giant Steve Cohen, Billions is basically just a much better version of Suits. There's no clear protagonist in this series — just as many people root for team Bobby (Cohen’s character) as do for team Chuck (Bharara’s character). If there weren’t already enough moral ambiguity in the cases you've been reading, Billions would be perfect.
Verdict: Undecided about going into public or private practice? This isn’t going to help — 9/10
3. Legally Blonde (2001)
Harvard Law seems a hell of a lot more exciting (and easier to get into) than MLS. Explore the movie that has shaped millions of people's perceptions of what being a law student is like. Funnily enough, the most unrealistic part of this entire movie is how Elle went from a 143 to a 179 in the LSAT in a few weeks. Seriously, piss right off.
Verdict: “You got into the Melbourne JD?” “What? Like, it’s hard?” — 9.5/10
2. Better Call Saul (2014–)
Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad gets his very own spinoff, which in my opinion, is better than the original series. Better Call Saul is a case study for aspiring lawyers of any kind; Saul is an opportunist, and practices in any field of law he can find clients. The opening scene (proceeding the title) is one of the best court scenes of all time. If you're unwilling to commit to an entire series, at least watch the first five minutes of the pilot.
Verdict: You don’t want a criminal lawyer...you want a criminal lawyer — 10/10
1. The Castle (1997)
This movie should be screened in the first seminar of LMR. Actually, it should be played on every incoming flight to Australia instead of that customs video. You get to follow the Kerrigans all the way from Coolaroo to the High Court, while realising that Dennis Denuto understands Mabo as much as you ever will. There's absolutely no excuse not to see this one before you finish your JD.
Verdict: Good. — Straight to the pool room/10
Nathan is a First Year JD Student.
Other articles in this issue: