‘Law & Order: For the Defense’: Cast, release date and everything else you need to know

Law & Order: For the Defense
(Image credit: Universal Television)

UPDATE 7/15:  Law & Order: For the Defense will not have its day in court. NBC and Dick Wolf have mutually agreed to not go forward with the latest spinoff in the Law & Order franchise, which had been given a straight-to-series order by the network. The Hollywood Reporter has a full report. 

Law & Order is getting another spinoff, with NBC giving a straight-to-series order for Law & Order: For the Defense. This new series will, as always, be overseen by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, but it will be Carol Mendelsohn, who previously wrote for CSI, that will serve as the series’ showrunner.

The Law & Order franchise has been on TV for more than 30 years, with Wolf launching the original series on NBC in 1990. Since then, Law & Order has had six other spinoffs, most notably Law & Order: SVU, the newer Law & Order: Organized Crime and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as shorter-lived spinoffs Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Law & Order: LA, and Law & Order: True Crime.

Before we find out if Law & Order: For the Defense will be another successful branch of the franchise, here is everything we know about the new show.

What is the premise of ‘Law & Order: For the Defense’? 

For essentially its entire run and no matter the spinoff, Law & Order has been about telling the story of the police and prosecutors who work to put bad guys away. Law & Order: For the Defense looks at the other side of the equation, the defense lawyers tasked with proving their client’s innocence. The show will also take a broad look at the criminal justice system.

“This new show is exciting for me personally,” said Wolf when Law & Order: For the Defense was picked up. “We spent the last 30 years on shows that played offense. Now it will be great to play defense, and being able to do it with Carol is an honor and an opportunity for both of us to do television that hasn’t been done before.”

The Law & Order franchise has always been one that uses real-life events to inspire some of its storytelling to stay as timely as possible. And with many of the headline making cases we have seen in recent years, they certainly aren’t going to be lacking on possible material.

Who is in the ‘Law & Order: For the Defense’ cast?

Many of the actors that have partaken in the Law & Order franchise have become synonymous with the characters they play in the shows. Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe, Sam Waterstone as Jack McCoy, Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler.

Law & Order: For the Defense could very well create a new iconic TV character, but just who will be playing them we still don’t know. NBC ordered the spinoff in May, but no cast members were announced at that time and we are still waiting to hear who will be making up the defense team for this new series.

What is the ‘Law & Order: For the Defense’ release date? 

Law & Order: For the Defense will become part of NBC’s primetime lineup right when the new TV year kicks off in the fall. While we don’t have an exact date, the pilot episode of Law & Order: For the Defense is scheduled to air sometime in September, according to IMDb.

What we do know is that Law & Order: For the Defense will air on Thursdays from 8-9 p.m. ET, according to NBCUniversal’s materials. As a result, Thursdays on NBC have gone from being the home of its marquee comedies to being all about Law & Order

Law & Order: For the Defense will serve as the lead-in for Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m., followed by Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m.

Is there a ‘Law & Order: For the Defense’ trailer?

Law & Order: For the Defense appears to still be in the process of development (though on a deadline with its expected fall launch). And with no cast announced, it should come as no surprise that we are without a trailer as of right now.

In all likelihood, any trailer for Law & Order: For the Defense will be held off until late summer or even just a couple weeks before the show’s premiere. With an established fanbase already in place, Law & Order doesn’t need to do a whole lot to build anticipation for a new spinoff.

What to Watch will continue to provide updates on Law & Order: For the Defense as it becomes available.

Past Law & Order seasons and series are available to stream on Peacock.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.