pretend I made a pun here with interrogatory or something
January 10, 2021 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I like lawyer shows. I have watched a LOT of them, but not all of them. What is the BEST lawyer show?

Or what is one that you always thought was pretty good but has been lost to the dustbin of history?

Funny, serious, tv, miniseries, movie, all good. Just as long as at least 60% of the characters/plot is lawyers doing lawyering.

Not looking for books right now necessarily but if you are DYING to tell me of your favorite lawyer book go ahead.

Off the top of my head some ones I really like are The Practice, a Few Good Men, The Rainmaker, and the Lincoln Lawyer books. And Legally Blonde. And if Stephen Fry did a little more solicitoring in it, Kingdom. But anyway I don't necessarily want more lawyer shows targeted only to me, I want the best lawyer shows from you, so please share. Thank you!
posted by phunniemee to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The Good Wife! Also a fan of its spin-off series, The Good Fight.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2021 [12 favorites]

The eternal classic: Perry Mason.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Better call Saul - this might not hit 60% law related every episode, but has some incredibly vivid details of the boring unglamorous aspects of legal practice and why it sucks

The good wife - lots of truish details of behind the scenes stuff of legal practice

My cousin Vinnie - excellent details about discovery, evidentiary standards

L.A. Law - I found this to be very sophisticated as a 12 year old.
posted by skewed at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2021 [5 favorites]

Boston Legal - I lost interest in the later seasons but for awhile this was one of my top guilty pleasures.
posted by jeffmilner at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Suits is great fun. Not sure it meets your 60%, but I think it’s still worth a try.

Boston Legal has a lot of William Shatner being William Shatner. Plus James Spader and Candice Bergan!

(On preview, ahh, beaten to Boston Legal)
posted by liet at 11:43 AM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

From your inclusion of Kingdom, I'm assuming you're okay with UK based law shows. I really like Silk, with Maxine Peake. Great acting, lots of drama, LOADS of lawyering (barristering I guess).

From the archives, do check out Rumpole if you haven't already. You could argue it is a mystery show disguised as a law show, but there is plenty of lawyering too, much of it based on John Mortimer's experience as a barrister.
posted by cpatterson at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Also, Mr. liet says the Perry Mason reboot was good. He also recommends the Phil Spector biopic.
posted by liet at 11:46 AM on January 10, 2021

The sadly only one season of The Grinder is incredible.
posted by General Malaise at 12:12 PM on January 10, 2021 [7 favorites]

Murder One starring Mary McCormack was pretty good if I recall correctly (it's been a few years). Mid-90's show about a criminal defense lawyer. One case per season.
posted by janepanic at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding The Grinder. Also, I liked Shark. Is it the greatest ever? No, but it's certainly enjoyable. James Woods leaves private practice as a high profile defense attorney in LA to be a prosecutor in the LA DA's office. And of course he's fine with bending, even breaking, the rules in order to win. Also stars Danielle Panabaker (The Flash) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager), and Kevin Pollack makes a handful of appearances. I'd say definitely watch it if you love any of the cast. Hulu has it.
posted by Meldanthral at 12:38 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Reversal of Fortune (if you can stomach a [reasonably accurate] depiction of a much younger Alan Dershowitz as protagonist, it's one of the few films that explicitly addresses a trial as dualing narratives). Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for his fabulously creepy Claus von Bulow, though that was probably at least partially in compensation for the Academy being unable to even think about giving him an award the prior year for his terrifying double role in Cronenberg's Dead Ringers.

Michael Clayton (while the protagonist doesn't actually do much lawyering, one of the few films that are relatively accurate about Biglaw mechanics and about the actual function/status of lawyers in corporate America).
posted by praemunire at 1:19 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

As an oddity to include, there's 2004's Century City.
Premise was an LA law firm, set in 2030. Cases regarded the legal and ethical questions and melodrama about cloning, digital likeness property rights, taking growth blockers to remain a child star, amnesia drugs as therapy, etc. As a way to do 'ripped from the headlines' courtroom drama, but for hypothetical future scenarios.
posted by bartleby at 1:26 PM on January 10, 2021

If you can deal with slightly older and Canadian, the original Street Legal is worth a mention. (Avoid the recent reboot.)
posted by sardonyx at 1:26 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Almost any legal show I like is quirky, so here's my quirky list:

If you're up for shows that don't JUST have law in them, and like the quirkiness of David E. Kelly shows like The Practice (darker) and Boston Legal (lighter), consider Picket Fences. It's categorized as a "family drama" but has police officers and lawyers (including the great Fyvush Finkel). It's from the mid-90s.

For the People, staring (late of Bridgerton) Regé-Jean Page only lasted two seasons, but was often compelling both for the characters interactions and the cases. It looked at things from both the prosecution and defense side.

Judging Amy! It's a court show. It's a family show. It's a floor wax. It's a dessert topping. Seriously, it's courtroom drama and family melodrama, frothy and moving. And Tyne Daly is AMAZING, as always.

Back when basic cable was doing more fun shows, Franklin & Bash was a nifty comedy/drama lawyer show. It starred Mark Paul Gosselaar, but had nifty turns by Kumail Nanjiani, Reed Diamond, and Garcelle Beauvais.

Ally McBeal. I told you, I like quirky. It's not all dancing babies. And

Want weirdness? It only lasted a season, but The Grinder, with Rob Lowe and Fred Savage was bizarre and sometimes sweet. (One brother is a lawyer, one is an actor who started on a legal TV show and thinks it qualifies him to practice law, and the whole world kind of goes along with the kookiness, to Savage's not-so- slow-burn chagrin.)

Eli Stone! OMG, Eli Stone. It's a legal show. Jonny Lee Miller and people singing and dancing in a very Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist way.

Old stuff, which may or not be streamable:
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (which starred Stephen Hill, who was the original DA on Law & Order)
Would the Paper Chase scratch your itch? (The movie and the series.)
Judd for the Defense
Petrocelli (That's the series. The movie was The Lawyer.) 70s
Rumpole of the Bailey
The Defenders (the one from 1961with Dustin Hoffman)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:34 PM on January 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

L.A. Law - I found this to be very sophisticated as a 12 year old.

I did a full rewatch recently, and I enjoyed it. I found it to be a great time capsule.

And I only found myself mentally referring to Jimmy Smits as “Young Bail Organa” every few episodes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:23 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (Yeah I asked this question right after watching Jimmy Smits passionately defend the rights of small dog, then sit down and pet that dog, which was sitting at the defense table, in an episode called Raiders of the Lost Bark.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:46 PM on January 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Nthing The Good Wife. And Suits.
posted by gt2 at 3:24 PM on January 10, 2021

Kavanagh QC.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:05 PM on January 10, 2021

I would love to watch LA Law again, so I checked for streaming - amzn prime video/IMDB - yay!. Thank you, The Underpants Monster.
I liked the first couple seasons of Suits, then it didn't hold my attention. The actors are really good.
Judging Amy doesn't appear to be streaming.
I recall Paper Chase being good, but that's a while ago.
Boston Legal is over the top and highly entertaining.

I thoroughly enjoyed British shows The Split and Silk.
posted by theora55 at 4:07 PM on January 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

I really liked Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton, on Amazon. Didn't get a lot of media coverage that I ever saw, but enjoyable (as long as you like Billy Bob Thornton).
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:13 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

The first few seasons of the original Law and Order is relatively law heavy. Plus scenes of NYC in the early nineties.

And The Verdict, with Paul Newman, is pretty great.
posted by luckdragon at 7:43 PM on January 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

A great classic trial lawyer movie:
Anatomy of a Murder

I'll second or nth the recommendations above:
The Verdict - Lindsay Crouse had a small part but I have never forgotten her performance.
My Cousin Vinnie - Worth it just to see the titular character's "suit made of some kind of cloth" as he defends "the two yoots".
Rumpole of the Bailey - Interesting insight into the British courtroom.
Silk - Interesting insight into a British law firm.
posted by Avalow at 10:21 PM on January 10, 2021

A great classic trial lawyer movie:
Anatomy of a Murder

posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:42 AM on January 11, 2021

I really liked "Raising the Bar", but apparently I was one of only a few that did as it never made it past season 2.
posted by nalyd at 4:25 AM on January 11, 2021

The Verdict - Lindsay Crouse had a small part but I have never forgotten her performance.

RIght, Kaitlin Costello - "Who were these men?" - a great performance, in one of my favorite movies.
posted by thelonius at 8:59 AM on January 11, 2021

Check out Burden of Truth and All Rise
posted by willnot at 3:46 PM on January 11, 2021

I know some folks swear by the OG Law & Order, but SVU is still trucking along breaking records for longest running scripted tv show ever and doing some really nice, sensitive work. If it's not on your list definitely consider queueing up the last few seasons on Hulu to check it out.
posted by nayantara at 6:56 PM on January 11, 2021

Judge John Deed is a British series with Martin Shaw as a High Court judge (so, not a lawyer). The trials are very interesting and, as with Silk (fantastic) I spent A LOT of time trying to understand what was going on as the British legal system is very different from that of the US, I mean like two different planets different.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:52 PM on January 11, 2021

If you like your legal drama mixed with your period drama, you might enjoy Garrow’s Law. It was a sort of 18th-century procedural based on the real life and career of pioneering barrister Sir William Garrow. I enjoyed it very much, but I don’t really know where it might be available to watch.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:02 PM on January 11, 2021

I think Law & Order is the show lawyers reference most on blogs, etc, usually to point out that the real world isn't like that.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Sewing, but make it not fashion   |   Forget frizz management, I need detangling! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.