L.A. Law (and Hill Street Blues, its spinoff) are two of the most celebrated legal series ever shown on television, garnering 89 Emmy nominations and 15 wins. L.A. Law greatly affected how Americans perceive lawyers and the legal profession.
Some attorneys reported that the show glamorized their work lives, making them seem exciting and dramatic. Notably, it featured relatively unknown actors and actresses as guest stars.
This show featured a large ensemble cast and numerous parallel storylines, often reflecting its production time’s social and cultural ideologies. Many cases on the show touched upon hot-button issues like capital punishment, AIDS, racism, and domestic violence while highlighting tensions between wealthy senior partners and their less well-paid junior staff.
L.A. Law was one of the pioneering shows to teach its millions of viewers basic legal concepts such as torts and contracts–something only recently seen with Law & Order. L.A. Law received 15 Emmy awards during its run, four for Outstanding Drama Series alone. Critics lauded its intelligent plots and how it introduced them to tort law, contracts law, and more general legal knowledge – an innovative feature not seen since.
Leland McKenzie was a beloved character played by Richard Dysart, who graced the series throughout its run and won an Emmy award in 1992 for his performance. Additionally, this show was known for featuring many then relatively unknown actors such as Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Bates, and Gary Cole, with several going on to tremendous success after appearing, such as Susan Dey, Corbin Bernsen Amanda Donohoe, and Jill Eikenberry – just a few names among many!
David E. Kelley was an integral figure during the early days of Doogie Howser, M.D.
ABC was delighted by its enormously successful show “Richard Dysart and His Friends”; its success could be attributed to the excellent acting by its cast – many principal players were nominated for Emmy Awards, including Richard Dysart, Alan Rachins, Jimmy Smits, Michael Tucker, Susan Dey, and Jill Eikenberry – in addition to its high production values and lavish sets; producers invested heavily in special effects and even created an original theme song based on the sound of car trunk closing closed!
After the overwhelming success of Hill Street Blues, co-creator Steven Bochco quickly responded with another police/legal drama series set in Los Angeles: L.A. Law was one of the first television shows to depict legal practice realistically, featuring Los Angeles-based firm McKenzie Brackman Chaney & Kuzak while following attorneys in their personal and professional lives with unparalleled realism – winning critical acclaim and 15 Emmy nominations during its run.
At the start of Season One, Leland McKenzie (Richard Dysart) gave his partners a stern yet encouraging speech: he insisted they commit themselves and their firm by 5 pm or else he would ask them to leave. From then onwards, their relationship flourished, with success growing with each episode.
Some storylines were more severe than others, and the show did not shy away from exploring darker topics such as substance abuse, domestic violence, sex crimes, and murders. Other plotlines addressed family matters like Stuart Markowitz (Michael Tucker)’s marriage problems with Ann Kelsey (Jill Eikenberry). Their courtship had its highs and lows but turned bitter as mutual resentments outshone any early chemistry they may have shared.
One of the series’s most memorable episodes featured Abby Perkins (Michelle Greene)’s struggle for custody of her son. The episode proved so influential it even affected real legal cases – with lawyers from Texas writing letters to the show saying they were more aware of specific issues and changed their approach to legal proceedings due to this particular episode.
Other memorable and impactful storylines included Abby’s father’s death, the paralegal’s attempt at suicide, and the prosecutor’s assistant’s murder. Furthermore, this series explored topics such as mental illness, AIDS, and sexual orientation.
Once the series concluded, several of its stars had successful film and television careers as actors and writers. Richard Dysart, Michael Tucker, Blair Underwood, and Corbin Bernsen went on to star/write for multiple shows after L.A. Law ended. At the same time, Bochco also created and produced several more highly regarded series and wrote feature films and pilot episodes such as Josep and Picket Fences besides L.A. Law.
L.A. Law was an award-winning television series on NBC from September 1986 to May 1994 that proved immensely popular with audiences and critics alike, earning 15 Emmy Awards during its run. Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, several cast members went on to have successful careers elsewhere, including Richard Dysart, Corbin Bernsen, Susan Dey, Jimmy Smits, Jill Eikenberry, Larry Drake, Michael Tucker, Sheila Kelley Blair Underwood Amanda Donohoe.
This legal drama followed the activities of an elite Los Angeles law firm, McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak. As such, their fictional firm handled criminal and civil cases to earn high fees, all while featuring complex characters with many distinct personalities and romantic relationships in multiple episodes.
At its height, the show earned acclaim for casting talented and attractive actors as lead characters, such as Richard Dysart, Corbin Bernsen, Jimmy Smits, Jill Eikenberry, Sheila Kelley Amanda Donohoe, and Michele Greene – many of whom received Emmy nominations and even won four of them! Additionally, Mamie Van Doren and Buddy Hackett guest-starred on occasion.
Although popular among audiences and critics alike, the show was not without controversy. One particularly contentious moment on the show involved two women kissing for prime-time television – something unprecedented then! Michele Greene played Abby Perkins, while Amanda Donohoe represented CJ Lamb. Michele Greene and Amanda Donohoe represented Abby Perkins and CJ Lamb, respectively, during this scene in a restaurant setting to commemorate its sweeps season premiere.
The show’s popularity changed how Americans view law and lawyers, sparking interest in law school applications and classroom discussions. Furthermore, it affected how lawyers dressed and addressed juries when appearing before juries; some even claimed it influenced actual courtroom proceedings themselves – though other attorneys asserted otherwise and claimed it distorted reality so greatly it forced them to change their approach to their jobs.
Steven Bochco, one of the premier TV producers of all time, sits quietly in a screening room on the 20th Century Fox lot as legendary TV producer Terry Louise Fisher and lawyer-turned-writer David E. Kelley watch dailies from “L.A. Law.” The series focused on partners and associates at an LA law firm – featuring courtroom drama, office politics, and an abundance of social drama along with off-the-wall humor that made for top ratings during its eight-year run from 1986 to 1994 and winning 15 Emmy awards along the way – created by writer Terry Louise Fisher and lawyer-turned-writer David E. Kelley respectively.
“L.A. Law” stands out from legal soap operas by being shot on location with a semi-documentary style and featuring high-level acting performances and sophisticated storylines that carry on throughout. Many of its characters – Richard Dysart, Harry Hamlin, Susan Dey, Jimmy Smits, Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Michele Greene, and Blair Underwood- achieved much greater fame after appearing on LA Law.
American Crime Story had an immense effect on how Americans perceived lawyers and the legal profession, with law school applications increasing, professors using it as a teaching aid to discuss legal issues that appeared on screen, and law journal articles discussing its plotlines in great detail.
As well as its regular cast, the show also featured numerous guest stars with successful careers in film and television – Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Bates, Jay O. Sanders, and Bryan Cranston, among them – who later went on to have successful acting and musical careers; Vanna White and Buddy Hackett becoming prominent musical performers themselves.
The initial season of L.A. Law was an immense success; however, its second and third seasons did not fare so well. During its second season, two new attorneys joined its ensemble; Eli Levinson from Civil Wars fame was brought aboard; Denise Iannello also helped boost ratings. Unfortunately, momentum began waning over time until finally, after its third season, it was canceled.