Jimmy Smits Passes the TV Law Torch on ‘Bluff City Law’

L.A. Law made Jimmy Smits a star. He played Los Angeles attorney Victor Sifuentes for six of the show’s eight seasons. After that, he joined the cast of the legendary cop show N.Y.P.D. Blue and over the years he’s been in Star Wars, The West Wing, Dexter, 24, Sons of Anarchy and How to Get Away with Murder. Now he’s back in the courtroom on NBC’s Bluff City Law, but he’s not alone.

Jimmy Smits in Bluff City Law
Jimmy Smits in Bluff City Law | Jake Giles Netter/NBC

Smits plays Elijah Strait, a father who asks his estranged daughter Sydney (Caitlin McGee) to join him. Her experience in corporate law will help them fight against big corporations for their clients, but their personal baggage will create feuds for them both in and out of the courtroom. Bluff City Law premieres tonight and airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC. 

Jimmy Smits has no preference for TV careers

Although he’s played lawyers, cops, presidential candidates and more in his career. Even though Bluff City Law returns him to the courtroom, Smits has no preference when it comes to his roles.

Jimmy Smits
Jimmy Smits | Greg Campbell/NBC

“No, it’s more about the material to me, what’s on the page,” Smits said. “I’m an actor. Lawyers, doctors, Indian chiefs, those things’ll come around if you hang around long enough.”

Elijah is trying to teach Sydney his courtroom approach

Sydney comes in hot with their opponents. She’s used to representing the big company and she hasn’t lost a lot. There might be something to her strategy, but it will be a family battle to see who prevails in front of the jury.

Jimmy Smits and Caitlin McGee
Jimmy Smits and Caitlin McGee in Bluff City Law Paul Gilmore/NBC

“I think they’re both going to continually learn from each other and oppose each other vigorously because that relationship is what happens in court, in law,” Smits said. “You get to hear two different sides of an argument. So with regards to us, there’s going to be two different points of view on a lot of different issues that are maybe more character driven.”

Time might turn Sydney into Elijah

To Sydney, her father seems conservative in the courtroom. Elijah is patient and he’s confident Sydney might see things his way through trial and error.

Bluff City Law
(l-r) Caitlin McGee, Jimmy Smits and Michael Luwoye | NBC

“What is the perception of being conservative?” Smits said. “Is it really conservative or do you gain experience and approach things a different way? You could look at that as being conservative but it’s just that from years of being around and cases that you’ve tried, you know that there are different ways to approach a case. 

Elijah might pick up some of Sydney’s habits too

Elijah didn’t hire Sydney just to turn her into himself. He values what she brings to the table and he might start taking after her too. 

“Sometimes guns a-blazing is what you’ve got to do,” Smits said. “You’ve got to go in there knocking down doors.”

Jimmy Smits will get emotional about ‘Bluff City Law’ cases

Representing her father’s client is the first time Sydney gets emotional about a case. Elijah is used to feeling emotional about his cases, and Smits looks forward to portraying that.

Jimmy Smits in Bluff City Law
Jimmy Smits in Bluff City Law | Jake Giles Netter/NBC

“I think he feels very profoundly for all of the people that he represents and it might manifest itself in a different kind of way,” Smits said. “Yeah, he feels strongly. That’s why I think he’s decided over the 20something years or 30 years that that firm has been around, the bent of the types of cases that they handle is of a certain ilk because of the way he feels.”