The Practice



Drama with a passion for justice; teens and up.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series focuses on the pursuit of legal justice and shows strong professional loyalty and commitment to both clients and to the firm's partners. Highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the legal profession. But lawyers are sometimes seen engaging in unethical behavior, and the show contains frequent sexist references by some of the characters. One of the main characters is African-American while another is a single mother. Artificial insemination is a prominent theme.


Frequent discussion of violent acts (including some sexually based crimes, like sexual harrassment), as they relate to clients and court cases. Some fights, with people punching and kicking others to the point of injury. Murders, some by gunshot, have taken place. In addition to dealing with violent acts as part of their job, the main characters are sometimes directly involved with/the targets of violence (as in an ongoing serial killer-stalker plot).


Dialogue contains sexual innuendo (which may go over the head of young viewers). Some making out, but no simulated sex acts. Plenty of graphic descriptions of sex-related crimes.


Relatively mild: "damn," "hell," "bitch," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional adult consumption of alcohol, including beer, wine, and hard liquor. The adult use of marijuana is discussed and occasionally visible. Contains discussion of illegal drugs (related to clients/cases).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this legal drama has strong adult themes, including drugs, violence, sexual harassment, and murder -- both related to the cases that the lawyers deal with and in their own lives. The main characters are all adults, and most of them talk about or get involved in sexual relationships at some point during the show's run. Between the mature storylines and the sometimes-complex legal technicalities that the series deals with, this one isn't for kids.

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What's the story?

THE PRACTICE is an award-winning series that mixes drama, quick wit, and dry humor in order to tell a story about the professional lives of the attorneys at the Boston law firm of Donnell, Young, Dole, and Frutt. Led by Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott) -- whose able partners are Eugene Young (Steve Harris), Lindsay Dole (Kelli Williams), and Ellenor Frutt (Camryn Manheim) -- the firm passionately represents litigants in high-profile criminal and civil cases. Among those who add to the drama are supporting characters like loyal attorney Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco) and Assistant District Attorney Helen Gamble (Lara Flynn Boyle). The cases they take on are rarely mundane, and many present complex issues with strong political and moral implications -- not surprising, considering that the show was created by David E. Kelley, who has a reputation for churning out quirky, complicated dramedies like Ally McBeal and Picket Fences. Over the course of the series' run, many of the original characters left, to be replaced by new partners and colleagues, including recent law school graduate Jamie Stringer (Jessica Capshaw) and -- during the final season -- morally challenged lawyer Alan Shore (James Spader).

Is it any good?


The firm's cases often introduce strong and sometimes-disturbing subject matter -- including sexual harassment, race-related crime, and capital murder. But by dealing with these issues, the show poses some very serious questions about how we view our society and our legal system. The Practice looks at how the modern justice system copes with society's changing -- and complicated -- legal, moral, and ethical issues. Yes, viewers get a glimpse of the lawyers' personal lives, but in the end the series is really about the practice of law and the professional (and not-so-professional...) relationships that emerge as a result of working together within the legal profession.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the realities of the legal profession. What do lawyers have to know in order to represent their clients in the best possible way? Is justice always served in the courtroom? Why does it take such a long time for a case to be tried? Why is the law so complex? How do loopholes and other technicalities affect the legal system? Families can also discuss professional behavior in the workplace. What kind of relationships are appropriate with co-workers?

TV details

Cast:Camryn Manheim, Dylan McDermott, Steve Harris
Networks:FX, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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