The show was originally conceived as a legal drama mixed with Ally McBeal-style romantic comedy, and was one of four new prime-time series in 2002, as the beginning of an attempt to revive the Australian television industry. The concept combined with the cast of industry heavyweights initially seemed like a package that could not fail.
Although ratings were good the first week, figures quickly slumped and the series, which first aired in August, finished airing in November, cancelled after only 17 episodes. Subsequently repeat screenings were reedited to remove the Ally McBeal style CGI effects.
Set in Melbourne, Marshall Law tells the story of two sisters - Ros and Verity Marshall (played by Lisa McCune, popular after her seven-year run on Blue Heelers; and Alison Whyte, well known for her role on Frontline) - working at the Magistrate's Court. Ros is a Junior Prosecutor who is more interested in partying, and is having to prove her worth at the bench; while the more-experienced and overachieving Verity is now working as a barrister.
Both sisters soon find themselves in for surprises. Ros realises just how out of her depth she may be, begging the help of legal aid solicitor Mikey O'Dea (Nick Farnell), and mentor Esther Hersch, QC (Anne Phelan of Something in the Air).
Meanwhile Verity, working with her handsome but inept assistant Scott (Nathaniel Kiwi) faces her biggest challenge going up against one of the city's most eminent counsels, Dylan Boyd (William McInnes from SeaChange and Blue Heelers) - her ex-husband.
Verity and Ros, despite leading very different lifestyles, find themselves being forced to work together in this competitive world, particularly with the likes of Judge Don Foster (Greg Stone), Ros's boss Frank Dellabosca (Frank Gallacher), and the ambitious lawyer Prue Staley (Jane Hall). Verity McIntyre appeared as Julie Larson.
The original Marshall Law pilot was a different affair. Titled Leather and Silk, with more emphasis on drama, Bevan Lee, co-creator with Alison Nisselle, described the pilot as being too serious. Executive Producer John Holmes acknowledged that emphasis on the workings of the law "... didn't hold a lot of excitement or interest, except for some die-hard people who love the law and are really interested in it".
Most major characters other than Lisa McCune's were cast differently, and many smaller roles were removed. Holmes explained :
"There were too many people in it. You didn't get a chance to get any traction with any of the characters. There were so many incidental characters, when you watched it, you weren't quite sure who to focus on. Now there's much more concentration on Verity, Ros and Dylan. The show is much more about them and their lives and how they deal with each other, with the background of the legal profession, rather than it being about the legal profession with these characters in it." 
Industry A-Lister Kerry Armstrong originally played Verity, who was initially a magistrate rather than a barrister. In early 2002, Channel Seven announced that Armstrong would not be continuing with the series, claiming that she wasn't right for the part and "refused to play the role differently". Months later Armstrong agreed with the rumours that the producers thought she was too old for the part of McCune's sister. She would later join the cast of another of 2002's new shows, MDA, which fared much better.
Alyson Whyte had played Jane Hall's role of Prue Staley before moving over to take on the role of Verity.
Lani Tupu played Verity's ex-husband in the pilot instead of William McInnes. Deidre Rubenstein played the tole that would become Anne Phelan's, and Bud Tingwell was the DPP before Frank Gallacher.
Whilst the program came off the back of a strong lead in All Saints - it also faced tough competition in its Tuesday 9.30PM slot; Rove Live and another Australian drama, Nine's Stingers. It debuted well in its first week (airing Tuesday and Wednesday) but plummeted dramatically in week 2 and never recovered.
|11 Aug – 17 Aug||373,000||465,000||203,000||145,000||133,000||1,319,000||34|
|11 Aug – 17 Aug||391,000||461,000||201,000||130,000||111,000||1,293,000||38|
|18 Aug – 24 Aug||212,000||266,000||102,000||97,000||88,000||765,000||100|
|25 Aug – 31 Aug||241,000||338,000||115,000||109,000||104,000||906,000||72|
|1 Sep – 7 Sep||251,000||304,000||140,000||83,000||106,000||885,000||74|
|8 Sep – 14 Sep||252,000||282,000||136,000||86,000||97,000||852,000||76|
|15 Sep – 21 Sep||254,000||304,000||116,000||96,000||68,000||839,000||80|
|22 Sep – 28 Sep||254,000||264,000||121,000||83,000||89,000||811,000||86|
|29 Sep – 5 Oct||204,000||243,000||101,000||84,000||98,000||730,000||88|
|6 Oct – 12 Oct||238,000||237,000||122,000||94,000||103,000||794,000||84|
|27 Oct – 2 Nov||273,000||226,000||116,000||72,000||88,000||776,000||95|
|3 Nov – 9 Nov||236,000||230,000||124,000||65,000||61,000||716,000||94|
|10 Nov – 16 Nov||267,000||283,000||118,000||63,000||106,000||837,000||79|
|17 Nov – 23 Nov||251,000||237,000||115,000||74,000||83,000||761,000||85|
|24 Nov – 30 Nov||256,000||219,000||115,000||72,000||80,000||742,000||75|