Last Updated February 2022 by Crystallace
The 10 Best Legal Documentaries That Every Lawyer Needs to Watch…Recommendations From a Lawyer
Documentaries are by far my favorite genre to watch. It’s like watching a book. Most people that know me know that I am a great source for book and film recommendations and my colleagues are no different.
Because I am always getting asked for recommendations, I decided to compile this list of The 10 Best Legal Documentaries That Every Lawyer Needs to Watch because honestly,
“What do you guys mean you haven’t seen these yet?!”
If you’re not a lawyer you should still watch these because they are just packed with good stuff.
These documentaries are so mind-blowing they should count as CLE credit
1. Dinosaur 13 (2014)
Area of Law: Property, Eminent Domain, Native American Land Trusts
Sue the Dinosaur is a Chicagoan like me. Of course she isn’t from there but that’s where she lives and I remember the first time I saw her. She is breath taking.
This documentary takes a deep dive into how archeologists found Sue and the horrible fight for her that ensued afterwards.
This one was a tear jerker for me. So I gave it five stars for making a thug cry.
2. Hot Coffee (2011)
Area of law: Torts, Policy
Hot Coffee goes behind the headlines of the infamous McDonald’s Coffee case and it’s the life hack documentary that Americans need to watch.
If they only knew what lengths their insurance companies went to not to pay claims, I have a feeling Jake from State Farm wouldn’t be so popular.
I gave it 4 stars because it could have been longer.
3. The Devil We Know (2018)
Area of law: Environmental law, Torts, What plaintiff lawyers go through
This documentary takes a look into the litigation behind Teflon showing how big corporations don’t care about anything but the bottom line.
Call up your big law friend and say “OMG, how could you defend those people?!”
I gave it 4 stars because you do have to push through some dull parts.
4. Gideon’s Army (2013)
Area of law: The life of Public Defenders
Public Defenders are often the butt of a lot of jokes and disrespect.
To me, it is one of the most noble positions you can hold as an attorney. I just wish society looked at it that way. This documentary goes behind the scenes of what it is like to be a Public Defender.
I feel like it was missing something.
5. Saving Capitalism (2017)
Area of law: Policy and Elections
This documentary probably wouldn’t be classified as a legal documentary but it is still one lawyers should watch. As the name implies, Saving Capitalism is about economic policy in the U.S.
The juicy part is about how our country’s policies are framed and influenced in today’s world. Before you vote again, watch this documentary.
This one just did it for me. Who doesn’t love an objective view of politics?
6. Who Let The Dogs Out? (2019)
Area of law: Intellectual Property
This was fun to watch. It starts off with the legal battle surrounding the hit song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and goes back to the origins of the song and who really owns the rights. The ending will surprise you.
It made the list because it was different yet enjoyable.
Best Legal Documentaries About Criminal Law
7. 13th (2016)
Area of law: Policy, Criminal law
This one is about the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
This is probably one of the best legal documentaries I have ever seen. When I first watched it, I had to stop because it hit too close to home and it was tear jerking. I finally found the courage to watch it again and I was very pleased with how it took our experiences and broke it down into math and economics for the world to understand.
You have probably seen it already but if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
8. Making a Murderer (2015)
Area of law: Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law
This is probably one of the best legal documentaries I have ever seen. It takes a step by step dive into the meaning of being railroaded by the criminal justice system.
9. The Seven Five (2015)
Area of law: Criminal Law, Police
I can’t speak too much about this one. Just know it is a MUST SEE!
10. How to Fix a Drug Scandal (2020)
Area of law: Prosecutorial Misconduct
This one will blow your mind. The psychology of some people who for for “the State” amazes me. But what amazes me even more is society’s blatant disregard for prosecutorial misconduct.
I will be updating this list periodically.
Which ones have you seen already? Which one are you checking out next? Let me know in the comments.