Movie Therapy for Law Students!

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Movie Therapy for Law Students!

It’s Sunday! It’s a day of rest (even for law students), so thought I’d write something a little less dry and a little more fun.

Whilst browsing on Amazon recently, I came across a book entitled Movie Therapy for Law Students by Sonia Buck — which, apparently, helps you to prepare for law exams… by watching classic legal drama! I was tempted to buy, except that two things occurred to me. First of all, the book is aimed at American law students. Secondly, it almost seems too good to be true!!  But you can check it out by clicking below…

Movie Therapy

Available from Amazon UK

It also made me think:  What a splendid idea for a Sunday blog post! Therefore, I have adapted Miss Buck’s idea to present a selection of ‘smart’ movies for the aspiring British lawyer. In nerdy fashion, I’ve placed recommendations under related subjects from your law degree — so you know what kind of mindset to bring to each movie. I have decided not to recommend movies on criminal law as there are literally thousands to pick from, and the subject matter is so engrossing that students are likely to switch-off and enjoy the story rather than ponder the issues.

If this list had to include one crime title, let it be Twelve Angry Men (1957), so you can see how a jury in a criminal trial reaches its verdict.

* Legal Disclaimer:

Watching movies about the law will not turn you into a lawyer. But it’s better for your future career than vegetating in front of Emmerdale!

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CONTRACT LAW

The Paper Chase (1973)

Paper Chase

A young student, played by Timothy Bottoms, gets into America’s prestigious Harvard Law School, but soon finds himself struggling with his class on contracts. This story is good for two reasons. Firstly, because it involves a lot of discussion in class about contract law. Secondly, because the points of law being discussed are mostly taken from English cases (American contract law is founded upon English contract law, which goes back centuries). Not to mention, this movie introduces you to a contract case that you will undoubtedly need to learn…. Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company!

class

My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Vinny

This is a terrific comedy starring Joe Pesci as a hapless lawyer called on to represent his cousin who stands accused of murder. However, I’m recommending it for another reason. Throughout the story, Pesci is confronted by a local thug who wishes to fight him. Pesci promises to fight the thug in return for $200 which he owes to Pesci’s girlfriend. The rugged dialogue between these two characters is “on the money” from a contract law perspective. Pay close attention whilst Pesci schools the thug on the difference between an offer and a counter-offer! For me, this scene made visualising the rules of contract formation easier.

negotiating

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TORT LAW

The Verdict (1982)

Verdict

A drunken lawyer, played by Paul Newman, turns down a settlement offer and decides to fight for his client, a young girl whose life was destroyed by the negligence of a hospital that treated her. The lawyer must prove that his client was given the wrong type of anaesthetic during surgery. Things take a terrible turn, though, when his expert witness goes missing on the eve of trial. Hence, proving negligence will take everything this jaded lawyer has got. But has he got enough?

Newman

Philadelphia (1993)

Philadelphia

Tom Hanks portrays a gifted lawyer who finds himself sacked after colleagues discover his secret — that he is living with the incurable disease, AIDS. Whilst this story is not strictly based on tort, it serves as an important reminder that civil cases (of all kinds) are about seeking justice as well as money.

Hanks

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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Strip Search (2004)

Strip Search

Starring Glenn Close as a ruthless interrogator, this movie begins in class with a question to students:  If giving up all of your rights could rid the world of terrorism, would you do it?

Interrogation

In The Name Of The Father (1994)

In the Name

The true story of the “Guildford Four” who were wrongly accused of bombing a pub, and convicted as IRA terrorists. Daniel Day-Lewis is exceptional as Gerry Conlon, the young man from Belfast who was tortured into signing a false confession at a British police station. I think this movie is relevant because these events occurred after the UK had signed the European Convention on Human Rights, but before the Labour Party had passed the Human Rights Act. Hence, it proves that just being signed-up to conventions is no guarantee that our rights are protected. Indeed, we should all think carefully before allowing our Human Rights Act to be scrapped (as the Conservatives plan to do).

Tortured

 

… And that’s all for now as my Sunday roast awaits!

Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot think of movies to inspire you for land law and trusts. But if anyone knows of titles that could spread some butter on these dry-as-toast topics, feel free to add a comment for the rest of us.

Happy viewing!

UPDATE:
Sonia Buck, author of the book, Movie Therapy for Law Students, contacted me to recommend that students of land law and trusts watch THE DESCENDANTS.  According to Miss Buck, “It even mentions the Rule on Perpetuities!”

I’ve now purchased her fun book and would recommend it to UK students.

2 responses »

    • Miss Buck! Only just noticed your comment. Thanks for gracing my blog, and for suggesting “The Descendants” to students of land/trusts. ps…. I did buy your book in the end, although it’s been waiting in my Kindle for a while. I’m relieved to be done with law school, and to have “passed the Bar” as you Americans say! Best wishes.

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