The Lincoln Lawyer
Available on: Netflix (U.S. and U.K.)
Netflix’s recent hit The Lincoln Lawyer brings together some of the heaviest hitters in the legal genre to create Suits-levels of streaming catnip for viewers. Based on a character created by prolific author Michael Connelly and produced by courtroom TV mastermind David E. Kelley, The Lincoln Lawyer tells the story of a lawyer … and his Lincoln. Lead character Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) handles legal cases out of the back of his Lincoln Navigator as he’s trying to get his life back in order following addiction issues, adding a level of emotional resonance to the proceedings. You may remember this concept from the Matthew McConaughey-starring 2011 film of the same name, but we think it all works better in an episodic format.
Available on: Freevee (U.S.)
This entry doesn’t refer to HBO’s recent Perry Mason reboot (though that is very good and worth your time) but the classic original. There’s a reason why stunning confessions in court have come to be known as “Perry Mason moments” and it’s because of the everlasting legacy of this superb procedural. First popping up in Erle Stanley Gardner’s detective fiction, Perry Mason made the jump to television on CBS in 1957. Through nine seasons and nearly 300 episodes, Raymond Burr’s depiction of the titular attorney became the blueprint for pretty much every episodic legal story to come.
Available on: Prime Video (U.S.), Hulu (U.S.); For purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play (U.K.)
We’ve talked about TV producer David E. Kelley’s legal drama prowess in other entries on this list. But thanks to the magic of alphabetical order, we have now arrived at his first and arguably best legal drama. Premiering in 1997 (the same year as his other legal effort, the surreal comedy Ally McBeal), The Practice is one of the most influential TV shows of its kind. Kelley claims he created the series partially as a response to L.A. Law and its romanticized depiction of the legal system and that makes sense given the show’s biting, often cynical sense of humor. After eight well-received seasons, The Practice would enjoy a second life with its William Shatner and James Spader-starring spinoff Boston Legal.