5 Must-See Documentaries for Lawyers

Documentary crew

For a lawyer, examining people’s lives and solving mysteries are part of the job. And there are many documentaries that highlight these aspects of the profession. Here are my five must-see documentaries to check out today:

Making A Murderer

Critically acclaimed for its storytelling and historical accuracy, Making A Murderer is not for the faint of heart. Divided into 10 episodes, this Netflix docuseries tells the bleak story of Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted for sexual assault and attempted murder. It wouldn’t be until 2003—18 years later—when he was released from prison after DNA evidence proved his innocence. However, he was then arrested and convicted for murder in 2005, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey.

Making A Murderer takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride of allegations, inconsistencies, and evidence as the series compares the original case with the events leading to Avery’s 2007 murder conviction.

Hot Coffee

Imagine a spilled cup of coffee that turns into a lawsuit which becomes infamous for all the wrong reasons. This is Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants in a nutshell, a case surrounded by false narrative.

In Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, Liebeck sued the restaurant chain after spilling coffee on herself, which resulted in third-degree burns. Hot Coffee explores the legal system and attempts to define what is “frivolous” or “arbitrary” in the eyes of the law.

Valentine Road

Hosted by Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road explores a chilling 2008 case of 14-year-old Larry King, who was brutally murdered, allegedly by fellow classmate Brandon McInerny.

As the filmmakers explore this case, they delve into the ways in which race, a homophobic media, sexuality, and other biases affect legal outcomes.

No Jail Time: The Movie

People don’t always tell the truth, and the same is true with law enforcement. That’s where No Jail Time: The Movie comes in.

This 2017 op-doc (short, opinionated documentaries) from the New York Times paints a picture of corruption and bias in the legal system. From scheming defense attorneys to sophisticated sentencing mitigation video editors, they’ll stop at nothing to bend the truth in order to reduce their clients’ sentences. No Jail Time: The Movie also poses questions on how it can be hard to cross-examine character witnesses if the sentencing mitigation videos are brought into question.

Balancing The Scales

Balancing the Scales tells the story of women lawyers. From their little-known history to the norms of today’s legal system, this documentary spotlights how women lawyers were treated in the past and how they’re treated now.

You’ll hear interviews with legal icons like the late-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Roe v. Wade attorney Margie Pitt Hames, and civil rights attorney Gloria Allred. Any woman aspiring to work in the legal system should watch this film.