“The Practice”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
June 9, 2007

Defense attorney Bobby Donnell could’ve had his pick of high-paying jobs at any number of fancy Boston law firms. Instead, he chose to be his own boss.  The Practice: Volume One combines all six episodes from the debut mini season in 1997, along with seven episodes from the sophomore year.

Though it would’ve been a more cohesive collection if the entire two seasons were included on this four-disc DVD set, it’s still a welcome addition for fans of this David E. Kelley drama.

Starring Dylan McDermott as Bobby, the cast also includes Kelli Williams as uber-attorney Lindsay Dole, Emmy Award winner Camryn Manheim as Ellenor Frutt, and former cop-turned-defense attorney Eugene Young (Steve Harris).

Then there’s their friend–and also foil–prosecutor Helen Gamble (Lara Flynn Boyle), who admires the team’s tenacity but stops at nothing to beat them in court.

During the early seasons, Donnell’s firm doesn’t bring in enough money to decorate their offices, which are filthy–just like many of their clients.

But as they slowly build a reputation as the go-to firm for clients who most likely are guilty but want to be set free, they begin to wrestle with moral dilemmas. As can be expected from a Kelley series, the cases presented here are fabulously sensationalistic.

But they also touch on human emotions, such as when they represent a client who was fired for being unattractive.

The lawyers also have bittersweet moments as they realize they have surpassed their former legal mentors, some of whom have been seduced by the promise of big money.

The most compelling episodes involve Dole–a brilliant but unseasoned attorney–who slowly and methodically tackles the tobacco industry. While the opponent has teams of senior attorneys, associates, paralegals, and interns at its disposal, Dole tirelessly works the case and refuses to give in, even when the outcome seems inevitable.

The end result isn’t believable in the least, but her passion sets the groundwork for one of the show’s most watchable characters.

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