Common Law (1996 TV series)

Common Law is an American television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 28, 1996.[2] The show stars Greg Giraldo as a Latino lawyer at a mostly white law firm. The series was created by Rob LaZebnik, and produced by Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Common Law
Created byRob LaZebnik
Written byRob LaZebnik
StarringGreg Giraldo
Megyn Price
David Pasquesi
Carlos Jacott
Diana-Maria Riva
Gregory Sierra
John Di Maggio
Richard Fancy
Suzy Nakamura
Composer(s)Los Lobos
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9 (5 unaired) [1]
Executive producer(s)Rob LaZebnik
Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas
Gary S. Levine
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Witt/Thomas Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 28 (1996-09-28) 
October 19, 1996 (1996-10-19)

Due to low ratings, the series was pulled from ABC's schedule after four episodes had aired.[1]


Common Law focuses on John Alvarez (Greg Giraldo), the seemingly-token Latino at a large, WASPy law firm. John has a degree from Harvard Law School, but never forgets his working-class Queens roots, nor the idea that law is about protecting the "little guy" from the major corporations that are his firms' key clients. He has started a clandestine affair with fellow attorney Nancy Slaton (Megyn Price), clandestine because the firm forbids lawyers from dating each other to minimize claims of sexual harassment. To the disgust of his barber father, Luis (Gregory Sierra), John wears his hair long and plays guitar; his father views him as a hippie. Greg Giraldo was in reality a graduate of Harvard Law School nearly top of his class, and became a lawyer for a while before becoming a comedian. After a year as an attorney, Giraldo fell out of love with the profession and launched his comedy career, only referring to his law background very occasionally on the stand-up circuit, until he starred in this series.

Supporters of Common Law pointed to the Saturday 9:30/8:30 time slot as a factor in its poor ratings and subsequent cancellation despite having the long-running ABC sitcom Coach as its lead-in.[2] The series garnered much praise from the Latino community, who were happy to see a character and entertainer of Latino descent starring in such an upscale role. Subsequently, they gave ABC much backlash when the show was canceled.[2]



Four episodes are registered with the United States Copyright Office.

#TitleDirectorOriginal airdateProduction code
1"Pilot"Robby BensonSeptember 28, 1996 (1996-09-28)001
2"In the Matter of: John's 15 Minutes"Will MackenzieOctober 5, 1996 (1996-10-05)004
3"In the Matter of: Acceptance"Will MackenzieOctober 12, 1996 (1996-10-12)003
4"In the Matter of: Luis in Love"Will MackenzieOctober 19, 1996 (1996-10-19)005
5"In the Matter of: Need"TBAUnairedTBA
6"In the Matter of: Attention"TBAUnairedTBA
7"In the Matter of: John's Hero"TBAUnairedTBA
8"In the Matter of: Thanksgiving"TBAUnairedTBA
9"In the Matter of: John and Nancy's Secret"TBAUnairedTBA


  1. Braxton, Greg (October 18, 1996). "Latino Groups Decry ABC's Pulling of 'Common Law'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  2. O'Connor, John J. (September 28, 1996). "A Sitcom, Upscale And Latin". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
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