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Is The Lincoln Lawyer a True Story?

May 23, 2020
4 min read

‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ follows the story of a lawyer named Mick Haller, who is hired by a rich playboy with serious assault charges. While he gets in it for the money, the investigation reveals that his client might be guilty of more than one crime. Haller finds himself trapped in a prison of his own making and has to rely on his wits and resources to get himself out of this tricky situation while also ensuring that justice is delivered.

The film is a slick thriller that relies on its protagonist to keep things entertaining. Haller’s character is magnetic, and Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal makes him all the more interesting. This makes one wonder, could there really be a person like Mick Haller? Here’s the answer.

Is The Lincoln Lawyer based on a true story?

No, ‘The Lincoln Lawyer is not based on a true story. It is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. While the plot itself is not based on a true story, the character of Haller is inspired, in parts, by real-life lawyers. “I had wanted to write about a criminal defense lawyer, but a lot of people do that and I’m not a lawyer, so I kind of bided my time until I had something interesting, then I met a lawyer who worked out of the back seat of his car and I suddenly had it, I had that book,” he said.

It was in 2001 at Dodgers Stadium, when a conversation with the friend of a friend opened the door to a new story. The man’s name was David Ogden, and he was a criminal defense attorney. When Connelly asked him about his office, he said that he mostly worked out of his car. He also added that while it gave him the mobility that his job required, it also added to his persona. Being driven around by a chauffeur impresses a lot of people. Just so Connelly wouldn’t take ‘working out of a car’ to ‘living out of a car’, he also added that he lived a “couple of doors down from Matthew McConaughey”. The actor eventually ended up playing the character that was inspired by Ogden.

With the basic idea for the character in his mind, Connelly needed a more intimate knowledge of the workings of the legal system. For this, he turned towards his old friend, Dan Daly, who had switched careers from journalism to criminal defense law. From Daly and his partner Roger Mills, Connelly learned a lot of the nitty-gritty of their world- about the things that were borderline acceptable and the actions that would lead to disbarment. They would gather at a pub and share stories over a drink. This ritual also found a place in the story.

Connelly also used their actions and their words to mold the character of Mick Haller. Watching Daly on the phone constantly, taking his work everywhere is what made him make Haller so engrossed in his work. He also channeled their experiences into the protagonist. In one of the scenes, when Haller’s client doesn’t pay him, he uses Mr. Green as an excuse to halt the case in its tracks. This came from the stories of various attorneys that Daly and Mills had told him about. When in such a situation, lawyers would use excuses like finding a certain witness named Mr. Green, i.e., the money, and the other would allude to the violation of Rule No. 1, which was getting paid before doing any work.

Some of Daly’s own tricks made it into the book and the film. When one of his clients assured him that he had his money, he said, “That was the problem. He had my money.” The line made it into the film. In another scene, Haller cons a grand from his client by putting up the show of buying the tape from a cameraman, who, in reality, is his guy. It was picked up from Daly. He is also the one who gave the story its opening line. When Connelly asked him if he had ever worked for someone scary, Daly said, “There is no client as scary as an innocent man.”

Read More: Best Matthew McConaughey Movies and TV Shows

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