Lists that rank the power of real lawyers are well and good, but some lawyers possess the power of entertainment.
Not to ignore the partners, district attorneys, and associates who make the pursuit of justice seem glamorous, we compiled a list of the sexiest lawyers on television.
It’s hard to look at the list without reminiscing: are the days of good legal dramas behind us? When L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, and The Practice were still consuming the airwaves, the characters held court for years.
Today, legal dramas can barely survive a season on the broadcast networks (with the exception of The Good Wife, Eli Stone and Shark have been pulled from the screen). Damages has survived in cable, but not Raising the Bar.
If only there were more Jack McCoys in primetime.
Nelle Porter was the gutsy and confident opposite to Ally McBeal on the eponymous show.
DeRossi is the only member of our list to have actually attended law school; she attended University of Melbourne Law School, though she left before graduating.
Lyman was the White House Chief of Staff in West Wing and the son of a Connecticut partner at Debevoise & Plimpton. Though he wasn't a practicing attorney on the show, he graduated from YLS and once quipped, 'I don't practice law? I help write the laws. I write the laws. I make the laws. I am the law.'
The character of Tara Wilson first appeared in The Practice as a paralegal, but by the time she appeared in Boston Legal the next year she was a first-year associate. She was known for her relationship with Alan Shore, and left the show soon after their on-screen affair ended.
Before Robert Downey, Jr was Sherlock Holmes, or Iron Man, or Charlie Chaplin, he was Larry Paul. A quirky lawyer with his own practice, Paul was Ally McBeal's love interest until Downey's real life drug problems had him written off the show.
Southerlyn replaced ADA Carmichael in Season 12 of Law & Order. She left at the end of the fifth season, purportedly because she was too sympathetic to defendants. Her last episode ended with a surprising parlay, however, as she asked District Attorney Arthur Branch upon her firing, 'Is this because I'm a lesbian?'
Television's resident Executive District Attorney for fifteen seasons on Law & Order, Jack McCoy can claim the longest-running string of consecutive episode appearances of any television character.
While he's not sexy per se, he has developed an obviously loyal following for which he deserves some acclaim. Plus, who can't love those decisive eyebrows?
The newest member of our list, Byrne plays Ellen Parsons in TNT's Damages. She is a wide-eyed recent law school grad subject to the grim whims of bigwig partner Patty Hewes.
In The Practice, Bobby Donnell was the son of a janitor and the head of a scrappy Boston law firm. He was always dramatically conflicted in life, especially when it came to his secret/not-so-secret relationship with fellow partner Lindsay.
Fun fact: his character appeared in two Ally McBeal episodes in 1998 as a storyline crossed both shows. (Both shows were written and produced by David E. Kelley.)
Assistant District Attorney Abbie first appeared in Law and Order in 1998. She served as Jack McCoy's second-in-command and a hard-nosed, realist foil to his idealistic tendencies.
Classic Carmichael quote: No deals for anybody. Let's hang 'em all.
Smits played lawyer Sifuentes for five seasons of the acclaimed legal drama L.A. Law. He left in 1992 to pursue theatre and film, though was back on the small screen 2 years later as Detective Bobby Simone in N.Y.P.D. Blue.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.