The Practice focused on the law firm of Robert Donnell and Associates (later becoming Donnell, Young, Dole, & Frutt, and ultimately Young, Frutt, & Berluti). Plots typically featured the firm's involvement in various high-profile criminal and civil cases that often mirror current events. Conflict between legal ethics and personal morality was a recurring theme. Some episodes contained light comedy. Kelley claimed that he conceived the show as something of a rebuttal to L.A. Law (for which he wrote) and its romanticized treatment of the American legal system and legal proceedings.
The strain of Lindsay's incarceration begins to affect her marriage and she lashes out at Bobby. Meanwhile, a zealous law-school grad who seeks to join the firm has a run-in with Ellenor; and Jimmy is embroiled in a 16-year-old child-kidnapping case that hinges on lawyer-client confidentiality.
Lindsay's murder conviction tries Rebecca, who's handling the appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court; Jimmy's kidnapping case turns confrontational, in and out of court.
A resolution reached in Lindsay's murder conviction has emotional repercussions; and First Amendment issues figure oddly in Jamie's first trial, the defense of an accused flasher.
Religious freedom figures in a criminal case. On trial: a Christian Science couple charged with the murder of their ill child, whose parents' faith forbids medical treatment.
Political, religious and moral issues surface in a trial involving medical research. Also, Lindsay, now on her own, defends a client whose singing gives a neighbor the blues.
A sexual-abuse case involving victims of a former priest embroils Eugene; a nuisance suit filed by ex-lovers escalates into violence that rattles an already shaky Lindsay.
An accused molester's defense rattles Bobby, who's also unnerved by the reproach of a venerable priest; a case involving animal sacrifices embroils Ellenor.
Ellenor and Eugene defend a fiery yet frightened client named Cassie Ray, a murder suspect with a shadowy past. Moreover, Cassie's alibi witness has significant skeletons in her own closet. In a separate case, Lindsay reluctantly defends an airline that refuses to carry passengers of Arab descent.
A cop-killing case rattles Bobby, whose anemic defense of an unsavory client leads Helen to suspect that he's "tanking the trial"; a drug bust raises search-and-seizure issues.
Bobby has been benched due to his erratic behavior, so Eugene must take his place as lead counsel in a controversial murder case. Meanwhile Lindsay defends a killer, against her own better judgement, and Jamie is placed in a compromising situation involving a judge
Ellenor fights to save Denise Freeman, a rehabilitated death-row prisoner who has devoted her prison time to helping younger inmates. In a last-ditch effort to stay her execution, Ellenor bases an appeal on the medication the court ordered Denise to take at trial, which prevented the jury from observing her schizophrenia. Eugene argues a civil suit that blames a beer company for the death of a college-age youth.
Ellenor continues her desperate attempt to stop the execution of a mentally ill woman Denise Freeman on death row. The firm is torn over a controversial settlement in their case against an alcohol company.
Jimmy Berluti defends his high school crush, who is under investigation for a suspicious homicide, and Claire Wyatt interviews for a job at Lindsay's newly formed law firm.
A wrongful-imprisonment suit occupies Bobby, whose client spent 15 years in jail for a killing he didn't commit; a case involving a youth's soccer injury tests Claire's mettle in court.
Helen faces up against the firm in a case involving an accused killer whose protective mother provides alibis. A disturbed former client jarringly reenters Lindsay's life.
Psychopaths plague Lindsay and Helen. The latter is sued by an acquitted killer for defaming his mother; the former is hounded by a deviant she once defended.
The firm defends Kyle Healy, a wheelchair-bound man whose wife is charged with murdering his brother, the heir to a multimillion-dollar estate. Jimmy and Ellenor's defense is damaged by compelling circumstantial evidence; testimony about the defendant's stability — and the prosecution's playing of a shattering trump card. In other storylines, Jamie champions the cause of a lawyer who claims firms won't hire her because she's a rape victim; and Bobby, whose marriage is in trouble, links up with an old flame.
The death penalty comes under scrutiny in a controversial hearing centering on a troubled teen and admitted killer, whose case parallels Bobby's reinvolvement with a former lover.
A crazed fame-seeker takes CBS CEO Les Moonves hostage in a ploy for TV time to be negotiated by Jimmy, also a hostage.
A date-rape case links the accused to Jamie, a former victim; the return of crazed Stanley Deeks prompts terrified Lindsay to take drastic action that could jeopardize her career.
The collapse of Bobby's marriage is a prelude to a professional crisis. Also, the firm defends a wife on trial for slaying her abusive husband and represents a 10-year-old in a liability suit.