National Legal Network of Lawyers

Top Law-Related TV Shows

Top Law-Related TV Shows

Courtrooms are the ideal setting for a remarkable drama: Eyewitnesses detail criminal acts under oath, attorneys pass bloody gloves around, and juries and judges determine people’s fates. Innumerable TV programs and films have used courtrooms to capitalize on the sensational elements and climactic moments of the justice system. It’s not a reach to say that most of us who have little to no personal courtroom experience develop most of our preconceived notions about the law and its practice from these types of shows and movies.

In many ways, this isn’t a bad thing. Watching any law-related movie from The Devil’s Advocate and A Time to Kill to Liar, Liar and Legally Blonde helps viewers understand common legal parlance that one might hear in a courtroom. It also helps audiences familiarize themselves with the rules and procedures that structure our legal system and, ideally, ensure justice is achieved. Lastly, you could also make the argument that a strong courtroom drama helps us identify and respect the challenges involved in seeking justice through a flawed system.

With that in mind, listed below are some highly-rated legal TV shows that have emerged in recent years.

The Lincoln Lawyer (2022)

Streaming on Netflix, Peacock

This captivating legal thriller by David E. Keller follows the story of charismatic Los Angeles attorney Mike Haller. After recovering from a drug habit brought on by a life-altering accident, Haller is ready to restart his career as a lawyer. He is widely known for conducting business in the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car; a habit that has led to him being referred to as “The Lincoln Lawyer”.

This show is characterized by fast-moving plot lines with plenty of twists and likable characters to keep audiences engaged. With a strong supporting cast, the series appeals to a wide audience including fans of Michael Connelly’s books. The show also features plenty of courtroom scenes for anyone who enjoys watching the law in action.

Anatomy of a Scandal (2022)

Streaming on Netflix

Based on the Sarah Vaughn book of the same name, this six-episode miniseries drops you right into the middle of a tense courtroom saga. The story is developed around a British minister, James Whitehouse, who becomes enmeshed in a courtroom battle after he is accused of sexually assaulting a former lover. As media scrutiny increases and public opinion becomes increasingly hostile, Whitehouse must depend on the legal expertise of a well-respected female barrister named Kate to save his reputation.

From the very beginning, this legal drama/thriller spins a tale with enough surprises and suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the series. The court scenes are captivating and the characters are well-rounded. Although the story is engaging, some viewers may find some of the topics a little sensitive.

Better Call Saul (2015-2022)

Streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime

A spin-off and prequel to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is a crime drama created by Peter Gould and Vince Gillian. The show is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the early 2000s and features Bob Odenkirk as con-man-turned-criminal-defense-lawyer Jimmy McGill. The series follows him through his transition from a con artist into a self-serving attorney who calls himself Saul Goodman. Saul’s attempts to fight for justice soon cross paths with those involved in New Mexico’s illegal drug trade. Although this show is a spin-off of Breaking Bad, viewers do not have to see one in order to appreciate the other.

Perry Mason (2020-2023)

Streaming on HBO Max, Amazon Prime

For those seeking a blend of detective-style investigation and courtroom drama, the new noir adaptation of Perry Mason should fit the bill nicely. Set in Los Angeles in the 1930s, the show explores the origin of famed lawyer Perry Mason as he launches a new career as a private investigator. In this well-crafted, gritty reimagining of the 1957 legal show of the same name, Matthew Rhys does a stellar job of bringing Erle Stanley Gardener’s character to life.

Damages (2007-2012)

Streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime

Damages is another legal thriller TV show from about a decade ago. It first aired on FX in 2007 and ran for five seasons. The writing and production team consisted of Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman. This fast-paced and intense show starred Glenn Close as Patty Hewes, a highly accomplished but ruthless attorney, and her mentee, Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne), a recent graduate from law school. These two compelling actresses make up the show’s two main characters. Each season features a prominent case taken on by Hewes’ firm while also digging into Helen and Patty’s toxic and twisted relationship. The show has been repeatedly praised for its outstanding incorporation of legal technicalities and non-linear narrative.

Suits (2011-2019)

Streaming on Netflix, Peacock, Amazon Prime

Suits was one of the highest-rated and most-watched legal dramas in recent years. Created by Aaron Korsh, no doubt this nine-series show inspired many law students to work in the field of corporate law.

The show centers around the prestigious law firm of Pearson Hardman in New York City.  The first few seasons focus on the ambitious and brilliant attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and law school dropout Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) who both work at the firm while trying to keep Mike’s lack of an actual law degree under wraps.

The two met when Harvey was interviewing Harvard law school graduates for an associate position at his firm. At that time, as Mike is trying to escape from undercover agents with a briefcase full of marijuana, he stumbles into Harvey’s interview. He impresses Harvey with his eidetic memory and wit and manages to land the job. The show features numerous legal standoffs and a compelling ‘mentor-mentee’ relationship between Mike and Harvey. In addition to being educational, the show is full of dynamic characters and well-structured plots.

The Good Wife (2009-2016)

Streaming on Paramount+, Roku, Amazon Prime, CBS

The Good Wife is a captivating legal show that really examines the complexities of interpersonal relationships, politics, and the law. With an excellent cast featuring Julianna Margulies, the show examines the life of Alicia Florrick, a woman whose husband’s public scandal has forced her to return to her job as an attorney. The show has been praised for its strong female lead, engrossing plot lines, and very realistic depiction of practicing law.

The story centers around a state attorney’s wife as she resumes her law career after her husband’s involvement in both political and sex scandals is made public. She begins working as a litigator for the esteemed law firm of Stern, Lockhart & Gardner to take care of her family. The show’s portrayal of courtroom scenes has been called exceptional, as have its character arcs and storylines.

How to Get Away With Murder (2014-2020)

Streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime

As its name indicates, this series focuses on a very talented criminal defense lawyer and her efforts to prove her clients’ innocence in court. The show premiered in 2014 on ABC. It follows a small group of driven law students and their criminal defense professor as they become more and more mixed up in an unusual murder plot that changes the lives of everyone involved.

Viola Davis plays Annalise Keating, a phenomenal criminal law professor and defense attorney at Philadelphia University, who, along with her five students and two associates, becomes ensnared in a murder plot. The show opens with Annalise entering her classroom and challenging her students to solve a particularly tough case. The five who manage to solve it become the Keating Five; an elite group of students who get to work for her. In addition to lots of trial scenes, the show studies two related murders through flashforwards and flashbacks.

Law & Order (1990-present)

Streaming on Peacock, Amazon Prime, Vudu

Law & Order is a legal drama and police procedural that was created by Dick Wolf and first aired in 1990. It is set and filmed in New York. Law & Order ran for twenty seasons until 2010 making it the longest-running law enforcement show on American television. The series highlights the complex process of determining innocence and guilt while showcasing numerous personal, ethical, and legal predicaments.

Each episode is divided into two distinct parts. The first is the commission and investigation of a crime and the apprehension of a suspect by officers from the New York Police Department. The second half of each episode shows the defendant’s trial. The program’s structure relied heavily on intricate cases, which led to myriad problems for police and prosecutors alike. It is said to be one of the most influential legal series ever created.

The Night Of (2016)

Streaming on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu

The Night Of is an eight-part crime drama miniseries that aired in 2016. It was written by Steven Zaillian and Richard Price and directed by James March and Steven Zaillian. The show received global acclaim and was called a “must-watch” for all aspiring attorneys.

Riz Ahmed stars as college student Nasir Khan, a college student living in Queens. One night, after stealing his dad’s taxi with the intention of attending a party, Naz instead picks up a young lady named Andrea. He quickly abandons his party-going plans in favor of a night of sex and drugs with her.  Unfortunately, when Naz wakes up, he finds that Andrea has been stabbed to death and he has absolutely no memory of what happened. As Naz is on his way home, he is pulled over and arrested for a minor traffic violation. When he is searched by the police, they find the knife they believe to be the murder weapon and receive several positive identifications from eyewitnesses.

The drama realistically portrays the dark side of America’s criminal justice by showing how the truth is often obscured by bias and even basic human flaws.

The Practice (1997-2004)

Streaming on Amazon Prime, Vudu

The Practice is another law-related TV show created by David E. Kelly. First airing in 1997 and running for eight consecutive seasons, the series focused on a group of associates and partners at a Boston law firm. The plot focused on the frequent conflicts between legal ethics and personal morals while defending criminals such as rapists and murderers.

For Life (2020-2021)

Streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu

For Life is a family and legal drama series that was developed by Hank Steinberg. It premiered on ABC 2020 and stars Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace. The plot is very loosely based on the real-life account of Isaac Wright Jr., who was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. While he was imprisoned, he became a defense attorney and worked to overturn the wrongful convictions of 20 other prisoners before eventually being able to prove his own innocence. Wallace’s fight for freedom is driven by his desire to go home to his family, including his pregnant daughter, and reclaim the life that was taken from him.

The Good Fight (2017-2022)

Streaming on Roku, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Vudu

This critically acclaimed show is a sequel to and spin-off of The Good Wife. It stars Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, a woman who is forced out of her current law firm, Lockhart/Lee, after she falls for a financial scam that drains her life savings. She goes to work for Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at the law firm of Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart. The show does an excellent job of expanding its world with new characters and engaging its audience with a wide array of personal drama and, of course, courtroom battles.

The Good Fight stands apart from other legal dramas because of the boldness, satirical wit, and drama with which it tackles real-world problems. This show frequently breaks the fourth wall. It also employs the use of animated shorts when exploring legally complicated topics. This innovative approach to storytelling combined with multi-faceted character-driven plots and strong performances make the show resonate with its viewers by providing a more reflective and provocative television experience. Whether it is discussing tempestuous political topics, the #MeToo movement, or fake news, The Good Fight weaves these issues into its dialogue seamlessly, supplying the intriguing legal conspiracies and intrigues expected of the genre while still challenging viewers.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-present)

Streaming on Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Vudu

Law & Order: SVU is a long-running and groundbreaking legal drama that focuses on the complex and brutal cases investigated by the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department. The show’s strong rotating cast has carried each season through engrossing plots that address sensitive subjects such as sexual abuse and assault.

Recognized for its cultural impact, this program has distinguished itself from other law-themed dramas by fearlessly tackling illicit issues and relentlessly championing the victims of these crimes. This show both entertains and educates by calling attention to the emotional and legal complications of sexual violence. Additionally, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has helped generate much-needed conversations regarding the judicial process as it applies to these unique cases as well as victim rights, securing its place as one of the most socially relevant and influential legal dramas on TV today.

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson (2016)

Streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime

Based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, this show, created by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, centers around the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The first episode shows investigators visiting Simpson after the bodies of Ronald Goldman and Nichole Brown Simpson have been discovered. The police strongly suspect that Simpson committed the grisly double murder, and Marcia Clark is assigned to be the prosecutor. Viewed from a legal standpoint, the storyline explores the chaos that took place behind the scenes and delves into the complexities encountered on both sides of the case.

There’s a good reason that TV shows such as Law & Order, Perry Mason, and the others mentioned above remain so popular for so long. The legal profession and those who practice it have a palpable air of mystique and drama that makes them a source of fascination and intrigue to the uninformed public.

People watch procedural and criminal dramas because the average person is never going to don a cape and mask and rid their city or crime, investigate an alien conspiracy, or fight for the throne of seven kingdoms, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that they could, one day, find themselves in a court of law, as a plaintiff, defendant, attorney, juror, clerk, or judge. Legal dramas give viewers a sense that they understand the intricacies of practicing law and provide a strong sense of closure and justice.

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