As the creator of such beloved and enduring television series as Doogie Howser, M.D., Chicago Hope, The Practice, and Ally McBeal, writer/producer David E. Kelley has become one of the most influential and successful television figures of his era. By creating the kind of all-too-human characters that audiences can easily relate to and placing them in situations that are both believable and affecting, Kelley has almost single-handedly succeeded in keeping prime-time drama relevant in an era in which reality television may have otherwise rendered it obsolete. A graduate of Princeton University who also made a name for himself on the ice as captain of the Ivy League school's hockey team, Kelley later received his law degree from Boston University -- practicing law for a mere three years before becoming a writer and producer for L.A. Law in 1986. Kelley's legal experience provided the series with the kind of courtroom insight not easily duplicated by those who have not witnessed the legal process firsthand. His contributions to the show not only helped to make it one of the highest rated programs of the 1980s, but also served to kick off a career that would flourish throughout the following decade. Also in 1986, Kelley penned the story for the moderately successful courtroom comedy From the Hip -- marking a notable transition into features that would also carry over into the 1990s. By successfully rounding out the '80s as the creator/writer/producer of the adolescent medical drama Doogie Howser, M.D., Kelley proved that he could craft a believable and appealing sitcom with characters who -- despite being exceptionally gifted, as in the case of the eponymous medical whiz -- shared much in common with the average American in terms of social status and day-to-day problems.
In 1992, Kelley kicked off the final decade of the millennium with the quirky small-town crime drama Picket Fences. During the course of its successful four-year run, the series was nominated for no less than 27 Emmys, taking home 13, including Outstanding Drama Series and multiple actor awards when all was said and done. Of course, that was only the beginning of Kelley's success in the 1990s, and after going head-to-head with ER by creating the Emmy award-winning Chicago Hope in 1994, Kelley returned to the courtroom for both The Practice and Ally McBeal in 1997. Those two shows were initially aired with the novel approach of having each series represent opposite sides of the same case, but both Emmy-winning series went their separate ways during their second seasons, with The Practice ultimately outlasting Ally McBeal by two years.