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Hero or Villain? Cinematic Lawyers and the Delivery of Justice

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This essay is concerned with two specific issues that have as their backdrop the heroic central figure, the trial lawyer. First it considers the role of screen lawyers in seeking to maintain public (in this sense the public is the community within the film) support for the due process of law. The issue is the link between the lawyer and the initiation of the formal legal process. Essentially it is the extent to which the lawyer defends the institution of law. The second part of the piece considers when screen lawyers are permitted to go outside the formal process of law to ensure that the right result is achieved. It examines instances of where lawyers have been prepared to go ‘beyond law’ to achieve justice. Such acts raise a number of questions concerning how such behaviour affects perception of the legitimacy of the law, professional ethics, and the relationship between law and justice

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-6478.00176

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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