Professors Use Hollywood Films to Teach Lessons on Litigation
Web Editor - Published: October 24, 2012
“He personalizes his client, which is essential in a case like this,” said Professor John F. Nivala as he discussed a clip from the movie Philadelphia in which attorney Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington, makes an opening statement on behalf of Andrew Beckett, played by Tom Hanks.

On Monday, October 22nd, as part of the Pizza with the Professors series, Nivala and Associate Professor Jules Epstein shared clips from several Hollywood films with students to explore both how Hollywood depicts trials and ways that students can improve as litigators.

Regarding the opening of the opposing counselor in Philadelphia, Mary Steenburgen’s Belinda Conine, Epstein observed, “When you’ve taken an extreme position, you’ve painted yourself into a corner.”

Additional topics explored during the lively event included a look at ethics using a scene from 1959’s Anatomy of a Murder, a consideration of objections using a clip from My Cousin Vinny, and a look at cross examinations and witness impeachment using clips from Ghosts of Mississippi and Adam’s Rib.