Boston University School of Law

June 23, 2010

Tracing the path of alumnus and television producer David E. Kelley ('83):
FOX Japan visits BU Law

Japanese media interviewing John Raccardi
A crew from a Japanese TV station interviews Assistant Dean John Riccardi in the Moot Court room at the BU Law School.

You’ve probably heard of David E. Kelley, the Boston lawyer turned screenwriter and now producer of numerous popular TV shows. But what you might not realize is that before getting his start in TV and movies, Kelley studied at BU Law. Many of his TV series such as “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public,” “Boston Legal” and “The Practice” became popular in the U.S. but also in other countries as well. 20th Century Fox is actually in the process of releasing a DVD of “The Practice” for Japanese audiences.

In anticipation of the DVD’s release, Fox Japan along with two different Japanese TV stations as well as a Japanese magazine came to BU Law this past June to see the building where Kelley studied. They interviewed Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs John Riccardi as well as Momoko Takanobu (‘10), a BU Law student from Japan. The Japanese media were particularly interested in visiting the Moot Court and in simply finding out what it’s like to be a law student at BU.

The Practice DVD Booklet
A booklet in Japanese promoting the TV show "The Practice" which will soon be released on DVD in Japan.

After graduating with a J.D. from BU Law in 1983, Kelley began working at the Boston law firm Fine & Ambrogne. According to a New York Times article, Kelley never had any aspirations of becoming a writer, but nevertheless began working on a screenplay in 1983 to see if he could make some extra money. Four years later, his screenplay became the film “From the Hip," and his career in TV and movies began.

The TV show “The Practice” first aired on ABC in 1997. The show was focused on a group of defense attorneys in a Boston law firm who battled with the ethical issues of defending murderers, rapists and other criminals.

Momoko Takanobu taling with John Riccardi and the Japanese media
Momoko Takanobu ('10) a BU Law student from Japan (center) talks with Assistant Dean John Riccardi (left) and members of the Japanese media. Takanobu helped give a tour of the School and also translated between English and Japanese.

At the time it was first aired, the New York Times commented on the daunting task of making a hero out of a criminal defense attorney, but the show went on to become hugely successful. It ran for eight seasons before finally ending in 2004, and during this time it won, among other things, two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series.

Throughout his career, Kelley has produced numerous successful TV shows, many of which deal with legal practices. He is currently working on a new legal drama starring Kathy Bates about an ex-patent attorney starting a new law practice in a run down shoe store. The show, “Harry’s Law,” airs on NBC in the 2010-2011 season.

Reporting and photos by Casey Atkins

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