Seventeen years ago, Legally Blonde hit the theaters, and the legal profession has changed forever since. The film, which has a literal title punning the term “legally blind”, follows the story of Elle Woods, a materialistic-sorority girl who attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend by getting a Juris Doctor degree.
Elle has inspired an extraordinary amount of people- men and women- to go to law school; so, for a movie that is many individuals Alma maters, did it get the legal aspects of law school right?
Here is our list for the Attorney No-No’s in Legally Blonde:
- First off- the LSAT is hard. Now, certain law schools today are changing their admission standards and requirement to take the LSAT, but the average score on it is around 150. Elle’s first practice test score of 143, although dismal, is pretty realistic. What is unrealistic is that Elle went from a 143 to 179 (the test is scored out of 180). This would take some serious, and I mean serious studying, but even then, statistically students who take the LSAT a second time don’t see much of an increase. In actuality, nearly 30 percent of re-takers actually did worse the second time around. Sure prepping by locking yourself in the library and skipping Greek Week will help, but a near perfect score seems a little too good to be true.
- Probably on of my favorite scenes is when Elle poses as a lawyer in order to assist Paulette in getting her dog back from her ex, but her legal idiom isn’t exactly accurate for the situation. The term “habeas corpus” translated means “that you have the body” and in legal matters, “a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.” So, when Elle used this as her defense it’s important to note that “habeas corpus” has nothing to do with common-law marriage.
- For most of Brooke’s trial, her own legal team is convinced that she is guilty because she refuses to provide an alibi. It’s understandable that sensitive information is hard reveal, especially if the reputation of your work is on the line- but any alibi can be protected under Attorney-client privilege. This prevents the alibi from being openly revealed, and could present knowledge that would have helped them build a stronger defense.
- It’s blatant that Professor Callahan’s actions are clearly sexually harassment and a violation of Title IX. When Elle doesn’t report him for his actions immediately, and instead decides to drop out of law school, this is very realistic, and highlights an issue that is a large controversy today. The fact is, sexual assault victims at universities rarely report the crimes due to the fact many are afraid or feel insecure about the reactions that they may receive. Waiting doesn’t save everybody, so it is best to report the action right away.
- Many of the court scenes in this movie are a bit politically incorrect, especially tricking someone to come out of the closet; but with the inclusion of the noisy media attention, this case would likely get dismissed or sent for retrial.
- In the movie’s finale, Elle is allowed to practice law according to a rule for “senior law students”, all whom have taken a class in evidence can appear as an attorney. The drawback is that Elle is finishing her first year of law school, so in no way does that make her a “senior” and there wasn’t a scene, that I recall, which Elle is taking a class in evidence. There are exceptions, like when students operate under supervision, or get a written approval from the dean… but even then they must have completed successfully their next to the last year of law school. Even if Elle met all this criteria, she probably still wouldn’t have been able to represent Brooke because she isn’t specifically indigent.
Overall, Legally Blonde may be unrealistic, but has a lot of fantastic motivational moments, and is an empowering movie everyone should see.