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Law Procedural by David E. Kelley about the "sleazy" Boston law firm of Donnell, Young, Frutt & Dole, known for their high quotient of scummy clients and ethically questionable tactics. However, each of the characters at some point reveals having their ideals, with long speeches defending what they do and how they do it.

In its original form, it was a straight series of literate and intelligent courtroom dramas. Around the middle seasons, the show shifted substantially towards criminal drama, often featuring the now almost reputable firm being plagued by its dirtier former clients. In the last seasons, the show started focusing more on the characters' personal lives, both in and out of court (see One of Our Own), and developing increasingly far-out plots with criminally insane clients rather than just sleazy ones, a move that did not prove popular with audience or critics. This shift ended in a conclusive Retooling in the last season, retiring a lot of the cast including even the lead character, and ultimately becoming a Poorly-Disguised Pilot for its Spin-Off, Boston Legal.

Tropes used in The Practice include:

  • Accuse the Witness: Used several times. It even becomes something of a trademark of the titular firm, code-named "Plan B."
  • Ambiguous Situation: Frequently, as the show often doesn't reveal whether or not the defendant actually is guilty.
  • Amoral Attorney: By the end, pretty much everyone does something unethical.
  • Anti-Hero: Alan, an Amoral Attorney who ends up gaining the moral high ground when he sues the practice after they (after benefiting from his skills, which bring in most of their business and keep them afloat) fire him and attempt to steal his clients.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: To the point where it seemed like the featured client was one of these every week.
  • Common Nonsense Jury: Juries have returned some absolutely ridiculous verdicts in this series.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Happens to some of the acquitted defendants.
  • Courtroom Antic
  • Crossover: with Ally McBeal. The lawyers of DYF&D find Cage & Fish's liberal work ethic odd while Ally finds DYF&D dark, oppressive, scary and intimidating.
  • Friendly Enemy: Prosecutor Helen Gamble. Not only does she date Bobby at one point, but she and Lindsey eventually become roommates. One scene has her and Lindsey giggling, spraying each other with cream and generally having a lot of fun, when earlier that day they'd been on opposite sides of a murder case.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Averted; some clients actually are guilty, while with others, it's never proven one way or the other.
  • Informed Ability: Alan's skills as an anti-trust lawyer, which are mentioned by almost every other character. Throughout the final season (and Boston Legal), he's seen practicing a variety of fields, but he is never shown practicing this field.
  • It's Personal
  • Law Procedural
  • Mercy Kill: The crime being prosecuted in at least one episode. Another episode featured a man being prosecuted for inciting a mercy kill.
  • No Ending
  • One of Our Own
  • Only Law Firm in Town
  • Pedophile Priest: This trope caused Bobby to turn his back on the Catholic faith.
  • Phrase Catcher: "LUCY!"
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The eighth season spends several episodes setting up the law firm and characters which will be the focus of its Spin-Off Boston Legal.
  • Power Walk
  • Recurring Character: Some of the firm's cases lasted several episodes — sometimes as much as two months in Real Life — so naturally the clients in those cases appeared in numerous episodes.
  • The Reveal: The end-of-episode cutaway shot to George Vogelman in a nun's habit was a very effective shock to the audience, since we had been led to believe he was innocent up to that point. Which was just not so.
  • Screaming Birth
  • Serial Killer: A few, including the Poet, an unidentified murderer who provides a handy alternate suspect for the firm to pin a couple of the more brutal murders they defend on.
  • Spin-Off: Boston Legal
  • Start My Own: Bobby Donnell leaves the firm at the end of the seventh season to start his own firm, while Jimmy leaves near the end of the eighth to start his own after the fallout from the failed case against Alan.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Some of the guilty clients fall into this trope.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "There's a head! There's a head in the bag!"
    • Also done with a single word ("Mass. A. Chu. Setts.") by the judge in the firm's first capital case, which took them from Massachusetts to California.
  • Twofer Token Minority
  • Vigilante Execution: Perpetrated by a number of different clients.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: One serial killer did his dirty work in a nun's habit.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Jamie, when she sees her first dead body.
  • What the Hell, Hero? (these moments become increasingly common as the series goes on, and are the main contributing factor to the series' conclusion. The firm is dissolved, and the few surviving members enter different legal ranks in the hopes of rehabilitating the damage their What the Hell, Hero? moments have done to their reputations and their own sense of self-worth.)
    • The whole group of main characters get one during the final season when they fire Alan (who had, up to that point, kept the whole operation afloat by being their main source of revenue) and sue him for multiple perceived instances of immoral and unethical behaviour (including posing as a flight attendant and accessing the office computers to get information). Alan's whole defense comes down to, "Yes, I am an Amoral Attorney and a scumbag, but I brought this practice most of its revenue, none of these lawyers are any more ethical than I am, and I just want my slice of the pie." The court agrees, and awards Alan $2.3 million, causing the dissolution of the practice in the final episodes.