Reel-Life Law

February 22, 2012

Erin Brockovich – proof that hard work really does come with big rewards

Photo: Universal Studios

In a bid to balance the testosterone-filled legal dramadeys currently filling the airwaves, we’ve decided to take an Epilogue-style look at the girl power classic Erin Brockovich.

Unless you’ve been locked in a library for the last ten years, we’re sure you’ve seen or at least heard of the film Erin Brockovich – heck, it may have even encouraged some of you into law?! But what is it about the film that’s so inspiring?

Admittedly at first glance Ms Brockovich (Julia Roberts) doesn’t really seem like the role model type – high school drop-out and unemployed single mum of three is not really an award winning combination. But as we’re all taught from a young age you mustn’t judge a book by its cover, and Ms Brockovich has one deceptive cover.

Unlike some of the TV shows and films we’ve featured recently on Reel-Life Law, there’s no glitz and glamour, and no sexy lawyers in sharp suits. Just a vocal mum with chavvy clothes and manners that would send shivers down the spine of a finishing school teacher.

The reason? Erin Brockovich is based on a true story, which is why she actually has to work, and work hard, to succeed within the legal world. There are no easy wins for our heroine; she has to fight just to get an admin job at the local law firm. And the fight doesn’t stop there – after stumbling across an anomaly in a real estate case she is working on, Erin has to literally shout to get her voice heard by her boss and know-it-all Ed Masry (Albert Finney).

Only after countless hours of sifting through paperwork and burning the candle at both ends, does she prove her instinct right and find that the firm is sitting on one of the biggest lawsuits in US history. And that’s just the beginning – proof, proof and more proof is the name of the game, so our Ms Brockovich rolls up her sleeves and keeps on digging.

Of course Erin soon discovers, as many of us lawyers already know, a successful legal career and a lasting relationship are not always the best of bedfellows, so she waves bye-bye to boyfriend and babysitter George (Aaron Eckhart).

So what is it about this film? Well firstly, it’s a real triumph over adversity story, and it’s refreshing to see a woman climbing the legal ladder, even if this is at the sacrifice of her personal life! Secondly, and some would argue more importantly, it is true (being based on a true story ‘n all) that at the end of all that hard work you’ll be rewarded with a big fat bonus cheque. KM


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