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I love My Cousin Vinny. Most lawyers do. It is just a great movie that involves great lawyering. Everyone should watch this movie. But the question is: Is Vinny Gambini a good lawyer? We'll find out today.
The movies starts with two students driving through the South on their way to California. Once they arrive in Alabama, they stop at a local convenience store to pick up a few snacks. The store clerk is murdered just after they leave and, in a case of mistaken identity, they are fingered for the crime. Facing execution, the students do not have enough money for a lawyer, so they hire their cousin, Vincent Laguardia Gambini (Joe Pesci). After failing the bar 5 times, Vinny has been a lawyer for about six weeks and has to learn the process on the job. Vinny has to defend his clients and battle an uncompromising judge, some tough locals, and even his fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei).
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I get asked a lot about whether being a practicing attorney is like being a lawyer on TV. I love watching legal movies and courtroom dramas. It's one of the reasons I decided to become a lawyer. But sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out because they are ridiculous.
Today I'm taking a break from representing clients and teaching law students how to kick ass in law school to take on lawyers in the movies and on TV. While all legal movies and shows take dramatic license to make things more interesting (nobody wants to see hundreds of hours of brief writing), many of them have a grain of truth.
This is part of a continuing series of "Lawyer Reaction" videos. Got a legal movie or TV show you'd like me to critique? Let me know in the comments!
All clips used for fair use commentary, criticism, and educational purposes. See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).
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