Thanks to their thrilling examination of ideals and suspenseful storylines, legal dramas have always been a staple of American television.
There is not much more entertaining than watching a case play out in the courtroom or watching a strong-willed lawyer work to find just the right evidence needed to overcome an opposing party.
If you’ve been looking to start a new legal drama, keep reading for ten of our favorites. For help from a real lawyer, we have plenty at Schwartzapfel Lawyers. Get in contact with one of our legal professionals by visiting us online or by calling 1-516-342-2200 today!
Perry Mason (1957 to 1966)
No list of legal drama recommendations is complete without Perry Mason, which was one of the first shows to introduce the law genre to American television.
For 9 seasons and 271 episodes, Raymond Burr raised eyebrows and dropped jaws as the eponymous Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who would in no time take his place in the pop culture canon as a bulldog of truth, justice, and brass tacks.
Then, in 1973, The New Perry Mason (1973) ran as a revival of the original series — but with a different case. Sadly, if not expectedly, it was poorly received and ran only for 15 episodes. Luckily for viewers, Burr returned as Perry Mason in 1985 in a string of successful TV films — 30 in all — before the actor’s death in 1993.
You can watch the show on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or Paramount Plus with a free trial or monthly subscription.
Law and Order (1990 to Present)
With over 400 episodes and more than 20 seasons, Law and Order is a binge-worthy cult classic. There’s a reason why it’s been in production for over 30 years.
The show follows a unit of detectives through hundreds of criminal cases that take place in New York City. Every episode takes viewers through the detective work of uncovering who’s responsible for a crime, right to where it’s all revealed in the courtroom.
You can watch Law and Order with a subscription to Hulu or Peacock. You can also watch the new episodes of the show on NBC.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999 to Present)
The Law and Order franchise has a number of spin-off shows. However, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) is arguably one of its most popular and widely acclaimed spin-offs.
While the format of this show closely mirrors the format of the original Law and Order show, its cases focus on sex crimes, child abuse, and domestic violence.
Each episode features a new case that is investigated by the show’s team of detectives and taken to court by the district attorney. The cases aren’t the only interesting aspect of the show; as with the original Law and Order, you can watch how the main characters grow in their personalities and careers over the years.
You can watch all 527 episodes and 24 seasons of the show on Hulu or Peacock. You can also catch its newer episodes on NBC.
The Practice (1997 to 2004)
The Practice is a more lighthearted legal drama that centers around a Boston law firm started by the main character, Bobby Donnell.
Throughout the show, Donell struggles between upholding his ethical beliefs by turning away guilty clients and trying to run the firm and keep it in business. Other notable characters include Donell’s partners in the firm, as well as the firm’s receptionist that becomes involved in many of the firm’s cases.
The show ran for eight seasons and 168 episodes. While it is no longer on the air, you can watch The Practice with a subscription to Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
The Good Wife (2009 to 2016)
The Good Wife is centered around the character, Alicia Florrick, who starts working for a law firm after her husband is imprisoned. A former state attorney, her husband was sentenced to jail for a political scandal, leaving her to provide for their kids.
As a defense lawyer, Florrick begins taking on civil and pro bono cases amidst pressures within the industry and in her personal life.
You can binge-watch seven seasons and over 150 episodes of The Good Wife on Amazon Prime Video and Paramount Plus.
Damages (2007 to 2012)
With a 90% Rotten Tomatoes split, this Glenn Close-driven vehicle spans five seasons, covering the relationship between a mentor and protégée, played by Rose Byrne, both of whom are powerful women as well as officers of the court.
You can watch it now on Hulu, Prime Video, or Apple TV.
How To Get Away With Murder (2014 to 2020)
Another cult favorite with millions of fans, How to Get Away With Murder is not just any legal drama.
The main character of the show, Annalise Keating, is a lawyer and professor who becomes directly involved in a murder case. Five of her students join her and work to help her cover up a murder using their own skills and what she’s taught them.
You can watch all 90 episodes and six seasons of the show on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video with a monthly subscription.
Goliath (2016 to 2021)
Goliath does not glamourize the legal industry but rather brings to light its imperfections and injustice.
Billy McBride, once a reputable lawyer, loses his credibility and his job after wrongfully acquitting a murderer who goes on to kill an entire family. As a result, he spirals into depression and alcoholism before making it his mission to expose disparities in the legal system and redeem himself by doing so.
You can watch all 32 episodes and four seasons of the show on Amazon Prime Video.
Ally McBeal (1997 to 2002)
Five seasons, 112 episodes, and tons of awards. This Boston-based legal comedy was an instant hit, doubling as a drama that tackled issues of life, love, and the law, while also featuring a digital dancing baby.
You can check it out today on Hulu, Disney+, or ESPN+.
Boston Legal (2004 to 2008)
Along with 93% of its Rotten Tomatoes audience, 86% of critics also pinged this legal spin-off as “fresh.” Starring James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen, Boston Legal ran as a continuation of The Practice for five seasons, in which 101 episodes aired.
You can watch it now on either Hulu, Disney+, or ESPN+.
Being a lawyer in real life may not be as glamorous or interesting as it is on the screen. But you can always count on Schwartzapfel Lawyersto fight for your case as hard as your favorite television lawyer can. Visit us online or speak with one of our experienced trial attorneys directly by calling 1-516-342-2200 for more information.
DISCLAIMER: Depictions of lawyers or legal institutions in shows and movies may not be accurate depictions of real lawyers or the legal industry. To talk to a licensed legal professional, give us a call at 1-516-342-2200 today!