Famous TV Law Shows

There are plenty of TV shows that feature lawyers in one capacity or another, but not many that focus on a group of characters that all deal with the legal field. So what shows have focused around the law? What shows have featured not one, but an entire cast of lawyers and judges that daily dealt with the law? Which ones did it well and are the most memorable?

Ally McBeal

While at first glance it could be easy to forget that this show was about lawyers, that was in fact the profession of all of the main characters, and there were often parallels between the cases they were arguing and the events in their personal lives. Unlike many shows, Ally McBeal was unusual in that it used the legal setting in a comedy series as opposed to a drama.

Night Court

If Ally McBeal was unusual, then it could be argued that Night Court was groundbreaking. A comedy set in a late night court room where the judge was as much of a character as any of the criminals being brought before him took the legal setting and had fun with it. Throw in the always hilarious John Larroquette as a lecherous prosecutor and you have a dry, witty comedy that was a staple on NBC for five seasons.

JAG

This legal show was unique because it dealt with military lawyers as opposed to civilian ones. Granted, the main character being a former Navy fighter pilot added an interesting twist since he wasn’t your average JAG lawyer, but the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) also added another twist as there are several differences between a military court martial and a civilian trial.

The Practice

A legal drama about a small Boston law firm, it spawned the more light-hearted Boston Legal, and occasionally crossed over with David E. Kelley’s other legal show, Ally McBeal. The show was a launching point for Dylan McDermott’s career and was highly regarded by the awards show, which regularly nominated it for various drama awards.

LA Law

Featuring Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen, Jimmy Smits, and Blair Underwood, to name a few, the show combined comedy and drama in a way that was typical of the late 80s and early 90s. The show dealt with touchy subjects like abortion, racism, domestic abuse, and even gay rights.

Matlock

Starring Andy Griffith, the character of Ben Matlock was a down to earth defense attorney in Atlanta, Georgia with a knack for getting an acquittal for his clients at trial, usually by getting the real perpetrator of the crime, usually murder, to confess on the stand. He was also known for wearing a light grey suit to nearly every trial during the show’s run.

Perry Mason

To many it’s the quintessential legal series. The show lasted nearly a decade and spawned thirty made for TV movies, with 26 of them starring Raymond Burr in the iconic role of Perry Mason, the role he played on television as well.

Like Matlock, Perry Mason was a defense attorney that was known for proving his clients innocent. Unlike Matlock, he tended to prove their innocence during the preliminary hearing phase of the trial, in part because the network didn’t want to have to pay twelve extras to be jurors.