Ill-prepared for his first class, novice law student James Hart incurs the wrath of Professor Kingsfield, who declares Hart "dead" regarding his continued participation. Hart then tries to find a way back into the professor's good graces.
Anderson pushes Hart to run for the first-year slot on the Law School Council. Elsewhere, Ford's father and sister come for a visit. Ford's father is an alumnus of the school, and his very presence (at the school and in the classroom) puts extra pressure on Ford to excel. To impress his father, Ford decides to run for the Law Council post (against Hart) which forces the study group members to choose sides. Hart's part-time job is at Ernie's Tavern.
Hart asks Kingsfield to answer a question before he thoroughly researched the case himself. As a penalty, Kingsfield gives Hart additional research that is due the following morning. Hart is lost in thought while bicycling across campus, and is struck by a car driven by Leanne Laski, the president of the Law Review. Meanwhile, Bell misplaces his Property outline (actually stolen by Ford, as a prank). Elsewhere, Logan is arrested when her off-hand legal advice to some high school girls results in a riot at the girls' private school.
The study group plans a weekend getaway picnic to blow off steam, but Professor Kingsfield assigns a lot of work at the last minute, causing the group to drop the getaway and just have an on-campus party. Self-styled ladies' man Anderson makes the rounds, and inadvertently gets stuck at the scene of a campus burglary, and is hauled in by the police. Hart and the others come to his legal aid.
Hart's girlfriend and fellow law student Nancy Burch has a secret - her father is an attorney who's mixed up with the mob. Events that follow cause her and Hart to be the subject of guilt by association, as they are scrutinized by the police, the media, the university, and other students.
Hart tries to help struggling student Tom Clayton, whose troubles only increase when he learns that his wife Karen is expecting their first child. Hart employs some humorous techniques to snap Clayton out of his academic stupor.
Bell decides that the reason Professor Kingsfield always calls on him is that his seating chart photo looks ridiculous. Bell enlists the reluctant assistance from the already-overburdened Hart to get a new photo, and replace it on the seating chart. The events that follow not only keep Hart from an important weekend-long Kingsfield assignment, but Ernie has entrusted the tavern to Hart's supervision for the weekend, only to be let down.
The students pair off (via random draw) for 'Moot Court', a courtroom-like competition. Hart lucks out, as his partner is close friend and fellow study group member Logan. Bell is not so lucky, as his partner is Raymond Livingston. Livingston, fresh off an undergraduate career at West Point, believes in the 'strong body, strong mind' approach, so he and Bell are up at dawn for calisthenics and jogging every day before studying. Meanwhile, all the intense 1-on-1 studying time with Logan causes Hart to examine his personal feelings for her. Predictably, the final 2 ...
This episode features Elizabeth Logan. Supreme Court Justice Reynolds pays a visit to campus to commemorate a milestone anniversary of women being admitted to the law school. During a question and answer session in Kingsfield's class, Logan confronts the judge as to why he has never hired a female law clerk. Professor Kingsfield attempts to stifle her, yet she persists, but does not get an answer from the judge. News of Logan's audacity quickly spreads across campus, and to national women's activist organizations, who send a bunch of demonstrators/hecklers to campus ...
A female friend from Hart's hometown comes to visit Hart while trying to sort out her struggling marriage. As usual, Hart is swamped, so he asks Bell to keep her company for a few days. Love-struck Bell skips classes to be with her, and goes so far as to start looking for apartments where he and she can live together. Her husband shows up to reconcile, but Bell forgets to inform her of that development.
Brooks has fallen behind in his studies, and wants to rejoin the study group. Hart is willing, but the others are reluctant, until Brooks produces some study aids from his 'tutor'. The entire study group (even the questionable Brooks) gets an A in Kingsfield's mid-term exam. This starts the suspicious looks and hushed tones from the other students. Hart gets to the bottom of this, and it ends with Brooks' amicable exit interview in Kingsfield's office.
Anderson likes his poker and after cleaning out his fellow 1-L players, he pays a visit to a female third-year student who knows Logan. When she's too busy that evening, Anderson is about to leave her house, when he's sucked into a poker game with a group of 3-L card sharks. Anderson racks up a huge debt he can't repay, until the study group comes to his aid, bankrolled anonymously by their own 'Richie Rich'.
A disabled transfer student is befriended by, and included in, the study group. As time goes on, he takes advantage of the group's kindness/empathy. His mother, who, as a family friend of Kingsfield, attempts to gain preferential treatment for her son.
An affirmative-action law student chafes at her admission status. This is compounded by the fact that her mother is employed as a maid/waitress at a university tea party honoring the law students, where the student ends up making a scene in front of Kingsfield and the dean.
Hart is chosen by Kingsfield to assist him and a third-year student to prepare for a case in New York City. The 3-L, nearing graduation, is busy seeking future employment, and dumps the majority of the work on Hart. Kingsfield detects this, and dismisses the 3-L from the case, leaving Hart as his only assistant. Hart accompanies Kingsfield to the Big Apple, where preparation can take a back seat to the nightlife.
Each study group must find and report on an 'interesting' case, with the best to be presented orally in class. Our favorite study group stumbles upon (completely by accident) a decades-old case that was LOST (!) by Kingsfield. Why didn't he appeal? The study group wrestles with thoughts of kickbacks and dishonesty.
Kingsfield's character and background are further developed in this episode: his own days as a student at the law school, hanging out at Ernie's in the 1930's, and his friendship, then, with Ernie Sr. However, now Ernie's is threatened with closure. The entire block, owned by the university, is to be razed to enable construction of a new gym and a parking lot. Ernie can't afford to hire a lawyer to fight the university and Hart takes on the job -- only to learn that his adversary is Kingsfield, representing the university. Bravely, Hart confronts Kingsfield and ...
The law school plays host to the Soviet gymnastics team, who are in the USA on a goodwill tour. Hart, Logan and others volunteer to show the Soviet team members around, but are given strict rules against unchaperoned socializing. Of course, this matters little to Hart once he sees the pretty balance-beam girl. Naturally, their exploits are discovered, and (initially) the penalties are severe.
Professor Kingsfield unleashes his first-year students in the campus-wide annual scavenger hunt. In an effort to find the answers to more questions than any other study group, everyone is wreaking havoc on all the campus libraries, including hiding and 'borrowing' books so that others cannot get answers. This annual ritual inflames Professor Smathers, who implores the dean to not only terminate the scavenger hunt, but to remove Kingsfield from various committees. As usual, Kingsfield ignores the dean's 'requests', but invites Smathers and the dean to the next class, ...