The 5 best books, films and TV shows for lawyers

Here are The Gateway's top picks

If you want to be a lawyer, reading about and watching lawyers in action is a great way to boost your commercial awareness and find out what's in store for you as you progress in your career.

Just be warned: some of the following provide better role models and guidance about the real legal world today than others, but we guarantee you'll learn something useful from every one.


The Law Machine by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer

A good readable introduction to the workings of the English courts that will give you the key terminology that you'll need to know.

Eve Was Framed by Helena Kennedy

A fascinating analysis of the inadequacies of the justice system. Discusses not just the treatment of women in court, but also discrimination because of ethnicity, class and age.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

The classic account of the English courts at their most foggy and rococo. The influence of Dickens' critique is arguably still detectable in debates about legal reform today.

Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

Ostensibly a history of French prisons, but in fact a mind-bending analysis of the relationship between knowledge and power that lies at the heart of all legal systems.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Every lawyer has at some point wanted to be Atticus Finch, the courtroom hero of this tale of prejudice, justice and coming of age in the deep south.


Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder, 1957)

Multi-Oscar winning courtroom drama based on an Agatha Christie short story starring Marlene Dietrich. Once you've seen it, you'll never forget the meaning of double jeopardy.

Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001)

"Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious", right? Wrong! Let the endlessly resourceful Elle Woods teach you a few things about the profession they'll never tell you in class.

The Firm (Sydney Pollack, 1993)

Slick and action-packed mob thriller starring Tom Cruise at his very best - a cautionary tale for innocent and overly enthusiastic young lawyers everywhere.

Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)

"All lawyers are back-stabbing, blood-sucking scumbags!" You go, girl! A true-life tale in which a single mother tackles tort law - and wins.

The Devil's Advocate (Taylor Hackford, 1997)

Hilariously overblown horror film about a dangerously ambitious trial lawyer, which takes "selling your soul" for success in the profession to a whole new level.

TV shows

This Life (BBC 2, 1996-7)

The definitive TV drama about twenty-something London lawyers which gained a cult following. Just don't watch it for interview tips or guidance on professional conduct.

Ally McBeal (Fox, 1997-2002)

Soft-centred drama about a single female trial lawyer in Boston. Magic realist twists, quirky characters and songs-a-plenty. Oh, and those weird unisex toilets.

Kingdom (ITV, 2007-9)

Stephen Fry stars as a small-town Norfolk solicitor dealing with an eccentric set of clients, and his own problems. A side of the profession you'll never encounter in the City.

Sex and The City (yes, really!) (HBO, 1998-2004)

We watch this show for Miranda Hobbes, a Manhattan attorney with a stellar career who dishes out plenty of good advice - and not just on legal matters. And she's always impeccably yet stylishly turned out, so take some dress code tips from her.

Judge Judy (Big Ticket Television, 1996 - present)

One of America's most outspoken family law judges gets her own TV show. It's live-action arbitration on anything from custody to property disputes - "Real cases! Real people! Judge Judy!"