Although the movie industry has recently been dominated by the rise of the superhero, 2022 has also continued to release a small number of legal dramas alongside it. While they might not be as popular, it seems that people are still intrigued by the concept of courtroom dramas – possibly because of the suspense, the intense storylines, or the rivalry between lawyers.
While the best lawyers in film are well-known and iconic heroes and fighters of justice, unfortunately, the “rivalry” trope can show how some are plain bad at what they do. Redditors spent some time discussing which lawyers are the worst (whether because of their lack of knowledge of the law or general ineptitude).
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Reddit user BuccoFever412 post, “Lewis Tulley in Ghostbusters 2” as their choice for worst film lawyer. And the comments in the chain admit that while he could be a good tax attorney, he has no business representing people in cases. He gets his law degree at night school and his first case is a disaster.
Louis can barely speak up during the deliberations and his opening statement is called, “short but pointless”. He essentially hands the case to the prosecution and spends most of the court’s time asking others what he should do next. In his defense, he does tell the Ghostbusters that they’re making a bad choice picking him to represent.
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
The two lawyers for the defense in My Cousin Vinny, (a great comedy turning 30 in 2022), both have their issues, but only one’s failings make them detrimental to the brother’s case. One Redditor makes their decision on who is who, “Best: Vinny Gambini Worst (from same movie): John Gibbons”.
At first, cousin Vinny seems like he’s going to be a wildcard and send the innocent brothers to jail, but when they turn to their public defender, the situation gets much worse. The defender, Gibbons, is such a nervous wreck that he can barely stutter out his own opening statement and during a line of questioning he actually helps the prosecution. Worst of all, every time he messes up he always seems to think he did alright.
The Castle (1997)
Reddit user Dudersaurus writes, “Dennis Denuto. The Castle. Excellent Aussie classic.” The Castle is one of the best Australian films of all time and a comedy that stars Eric Bana in his first film role. The film is about a kooky Australian family that fights to save their home from developers.
The kind but overindulgent patriarch hires a wayward lawyer friend of his, Denuto, to defend him in court. The case goes as poorly as one would expect. His main argument after he can’t find what section of Australian law the eviction violates, is that he thinks it just, “violates the vibe of the constitution, you know?”
Every character on future Earth in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and that includes the lawyers. Redditor TravelingFlipper posts, “Frito. Idiocracy.” Frito Pendejo, played by Dax Shepard, is the first low-IQ person that Luke Wilson’s character meets and when he’s revealed to be a lawyer, it’s obvious what happens next.
Frito is appointed to defend Wilson but ends up accusing him of even more crimes as well as continually stating he’s guilty of theft he’s on trial for anyway. It’s not as if there are better lawyers in Idiocracy but Frito seems particularly bad at his job, not even understanding whose side he’s on.
Bruce Wayne’s Lawyer
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Reddit user DrRexMorman writes, “Bruce Wayne’s lawyers in Dark knight rises.” In the third Batman film, the start of the plot hinges on Bane being able to drain Bruce Wayne’s bank account to force the billionaire into bankruptcy. The draining of money itself is iffy, but the fallout is even more ridiculous.
Bane’s attack on the stock exchange happens in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses, with many of their bank accounts deeply affected as well. So why billionaire Bruce Wayne’s lawyers can’t prove that the stock purchases constituted fraud within 10 minutes means it’s a plot hole or Bruce has the worst lawyers in Gotham.
Al Capone’s Lawyer
The Untouchables (1987)
Al Capone made his own bed when it came to the many crimes he committed but in The Untouchables, it’s like his lawyer set out to get him imprisoned. Redditor AporiaParadox sums it up, “Al Capone’s lawyer in The Untouchables… Needless to say, this is not how the real trial of Al Capone went down.”
In the film, the detectives and judge switch juries at the last second to remove all the members bribed by Capone. Instead of protesting the blatantly illegal move, Capone’s lawyer immediately switches his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty.” And this isn’t just a case of the situation working for the film, Capone thinks his lawyer is so terrible he ends up punching him in the face right after.
Andy Dufresne’s Lawyer
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Reddit user Chadwiko says, “Andy Dufresne’s lawyer at the start of Shawshank Redemption.” Shawshank Redemption, the adaptation of the Stephen King novella, begins with the trial of Andy Dufresne as the judge sentences him to two back-to-back life sentences for a crime he did not commit.
While there is a lot of circumstantial evidence making it look like Andy did kill his wife and her lover, there is a lot of reasonable doubt. Not least of which is that the gun Andy had on him was not used in the murder. It feels like a case that probably could have been argued down to anything from a double life sentence with a competent lawyer.
Sleepers is a legal drama that runs on the fact that it needs the lawyer protagonists to be bad at their job if only for a case. Redditor chimpyjnuts posts, “Danny Snyder (Dustin Hoffman) in ‘Sleepers’ – he says himself that he’s not a very good lawyer.”
The law team in the film has to work together to mishandle a case in order to absolve their friends of a minor crime and reveal the atrocities committed on them at a young age. Snyder openly admits he’s too old for the courtroom, but that is exactly what the team is looking for, a bad lawyer that can work for them.
Liar, Liar (1997)
Redditor KCLawgirl posts, “Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey), ‘Liar, Liar.” It is not a great sign for attorneys and lawyers that when a lawyer is forced to tell the truth at all times, he suddenly becomes very bad at his job. Jim Carrey plays the iconic Reede, a career lawyer whose life gets turned upside-down when his son’s wish forces him to always be honest.
All of his behavior during his trials after the wish could be constituted as malpractice as he often reveals private information and does not defend his clients to the best of his ability. Even before the wish, his seedy style of lawyering would probably raise a few eyebrows in real life.
LC Joanne Galloway
A Few Good Men (1992)
Aaron Sorkin tends to stretch reality in his films in order to inject more drama into his screenplays. One of his creations is picked by Reddit user lucia-pacciola as an example of what happens to a lawyer when they get the Sorkin treatment, “Lt Cdr Joanne “I strenuously object!” Galloway.”
Demi Moore does a great job playing the character, and she is definitely a big reason why A Few Good Menis so good but as an actual lawyer, Galloway leaves a lot to be desired. Besides her unusual objection in the Redditor’s comment, she makes a number of rookie mistakes as a veteran that actually hurt the case.
MORE: 10 TV Lawyers That Redditors Love In The Courtroom