Ever wonder what happens to all those leggy assistant district attorneys who've left Law & Order over the years?

Well, at least one of the brainy beauties has moved to the other side of the bench to become a judge. Actress Carey Lowell — who played ADA Jamie Ross from 1996-98 — reprises her role on tonight's Law & Order: Trial by Jury (10 pm/ET on NBC). And if this latest L&O spin-off fares well, we'll see more of Judge Jamie in the future.

"If the show continues [next season], they'll ask me to return," Lowell suggests to TVGuide.com. "Not any old thing would bring me back [to television]. I always thought that L&O had excellent writing and always loved the character of Jamie Ross and was happy to fill her shoes again. The opportunity to play Jamie was enough to bring me out of retirement."

As is typical with the oh-so-procedural franchise, you'll learn nothing of what Jamie's been up to since she left to get married and raise her daughter. Diehard fans will recall that Lowell guest-starred twice on the original L&O after quitting — once in 1999 and again in 2001. Both times, Ross was working as a defense attorney. Without any backstory to work with beyond that, Lowell had little but a script, a polyester robe and a gavel to make the big transition to judgeship.

"I have to say I was nervous," she admits. "I had a lot of legal speak at the beginning... I definitely had some jitters going into it, but it was a really nice crew and they made me feel very welcome."

However, the 44-year-old thesp says firmly, a return to full-time TV work is "not a possibility" for her. She much prefers spending time with husband Richard Gere, their 4-year-old son, Homer James Jigme, and Hannah, her 15-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. She's also content to do small parts in films like HBO's Empire Falls, due out this summer.

Despite her decision to stay out of Hollywood's rat race, Lowell says she'll encourage her genetically blessed offspring if they catch the acting bug. "I would get behind them and share everything I know," she declares. "My daughter wants to be a performer, and I just tell her that there's nothing more boring than a dumb actress, so she'd better read her literature and study." Hopefully, some of her colleagues are listening to that sage advice!