The network has given a straight to series order to Law & Order: For the Defense, the seventh series in producer Dick Wolf’s mega-franchise (not counting the in-limbo L&O: Hate Crimes and the True Crime limited series that dramatized the real-life Menendez murders). Former CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn will take the reins of the new series, which centers on the attorneys at a criminal defense firm.
“This new show is exciting for me personally,” Wolf said in a statement. “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.”
NBC hasn’t set a timeline for For the Defense yet, and it’s unclear whether the show, which has no actors attached yet, will be ready for the 2021-22 season. Whenever it makes it to air, it will join SVU — which has been renewed through its 24th season in 2022-23 — and likely Organized Crime, which has performed well in its first few episodes but has yet to be formally renewed, on NBC.
“We can’t wait to bring audiences the latest chapter of Law & Order, which will explore a different angle of the criminal justice system,” said Lisa Katz, president scripted programming at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We’re excited about Dick Wolf’s perpetually thought-provoking approach as well his collaboration with Carol Mendelsohn, who we have been eager to do a series with for a long time.”
NBC describes Law & Order: For the Defense as an “unbiased” look at a criminal defense firm, putting the lawyers and the criminal justice system under the microscope and promising a “contemporary morality tale” in each episode.
Universal Studio Group’s Universal Television and Wolf Entertainment will produce For the Defense. Mendelsohn executive produces with Wolf, Arthur Forney, Julie Weitz and Peter Jankowski.
As for the long-gestating Hate Crimes spinoff, SVU showrunner Warren Leight told The Hollywood Reporter‘s TV’s Top 5 podcast last summer that the show (which scored a series order in 2018) would likely land at NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock. There’s yet to be official word on it, however.