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THE LINCOLN LAWYER

About The Production
Lawyers and the vagaries of the justice system have long been a staple of the big screen, but audiences have never seen a lawyer quite like Michael "Mick” Haller in Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment's THE LINCOLN LAWYER. A streetwise defense attorney, Mick Haller has no office – instead, he works out of the backseat of a chauffeured Lincoln Continental, driving from one Los Angeles court house to another to defend various petty criminals who've run afoul of the justice system.

"Many people would likely consider Mick an ambulance chaser, a guy who's a bottom feeder,” admits actor Matthew McConaughey, who stars as Mick Haller. "He's a guy who's financially living from month to month, trying to support his ex-wife and his daughter, and defending people like prostitutes or someone busted on a drug charge, and a lot of smaller crimes.”

"Mick's a wheeler-dealer type,” says producer Gary Lucchesi. "Ninety percent of his cases plead out. He makes a deal and gets out.”

And he is always on the move, which is why the Lincoln Continental serves as the ideal mobile office. Explains producer Tom Rosenberg, "He has five or six cases going at once and they're all spread out across the county, which is geographically pretty wide. The best way for him to get from courtroom to courtroom is to be driven."

But despite his frequent back-room dealings, Mick also has his own code of ethics, and he believes in helping the downtrodden who have no one else on their side. Says McConaughey, "The truth is, Mick might have been a Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer and succeeded, but the guy's got a lot of heart and humanity and that's why I think he stayed with the bottom level criminals. It's where he feels the most needed, where he feels the most humane and it's where he's comfortable. Mick's been consistent with who he is from the beginning.”

Mick's client base of poor criminals doesn't earn him much, so when he agrees to defend Louis Roulet, a wealthy young man charged with attempted rape and murder, Haller does it only for the promise of a quick resolution and some easy money. But when the case unexpectedly goes to trial, Mick is forced into the most challenging – and dangerous – predicament of his career. "Mick finds out that Louis Roulet might actually not only be guilty of the crime he's charged for, but he's also guilty of the rape and murder of another woman four years ago,” explains McConaughey. "The caveat there is that Mick defended the guy who ended up getting wrongly convicted of that four-year-old crime.”

Mick is determined to correct his mistake and free his innocent former client from jail, but the client-attorney privilege prevents him from using any evidence against Roulet, even if he has absolute proof of his guilt. Mick finds himself caught between two clients – one who's serving the sentence for a crime committed by the other – and one wrong move will cost him his license forever. "For the first time, the consequences of this dance that Mick does with the justice system are personal,” says McConaughey. "Everything – his integrity, his livelihood – is at stake.”

Best-selling mystery/thriller novelist Michael Connelly, who wrote the book on which THE LINCOLN LAWYER is based, first conceived of the story while talking with a neighboring fan at a Dodgers baseball game in Los Angeles. "He was a lawyer and I asked him where his office was and he said, ‘Actually, I work out of my car,'” recalls Connelly. "I went on watching the game, and by the time it was over, I felt strongly that, based on our conversation, I had a whole book and a character that could go the distance.”

Before Connelly's book was published, the manuscript was sent to noted film producers Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi, partners in Lakeshore Entertainment. Rosenberg and Lucchesi read the galleys and were immediately attracted to the story for separate, personal reasons. Rosenberg, who did criminal defense work as an attorney, related to the character of Mick Haller from a legal point of view. While Lucchesi, who produced PRIMAL FEAR early in his Hollywood career, had been looking to make another film about a smart, irascible, tough-guy lawyer.

"We haven't seen a lawyer like Mick Haller on screen before,” Rosenberg says. "When you're a criminal lawyer almost all of your clients are guilty. If they're not guilty of the crime for which you're defending them, they're probably guilty of other crimes. That's just the nature of things. And Mick Haller, as an attorney, is as smart as they come.”

As soon as the producers acquired the rights to the novel, they set out to find the ideal screenwriter to adapt the material for a feature film. "Although we considered various writers, we had worked with John Romano on a successful adaptation of another book,” Lucchesi says. "John has a great reputation and a long resume of feature film and television projects to his credit, and we knew that he had the right sensibilities to bring this character and story to the screen. He delivered an amazing script to us, and one that Michael Connelly was very happy with, too. When you have a well known author like Michael Connelly you obviously want him to like the product that you're creating from his original work.”

Next, the producers approached the actor who seemed tailor made to play Mick Haller: Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey, who had played an attorney in his first major film role, A TIME TO KILL, recalls, "I had read an early version of the script and when Tom and Gary came to me with an offer, I eagerly accepted.”

Says Lucchesi, "Matthew has always been one of my favorite actors, and this role is perfect for him. We get to see him play all those qualities that made him a star to begin with: a confident guy with a bit of swagger and loads of charm.” "We'd always thought Matthew excelled in dramatic roles and this was an opportunity for him – after doing a lot of comedies – to take on a weightier role again,” adds Rosenberg.

For McConaughey, the role of Mick Haller was a natural fit, partly because it recalled the actor's early career ambitions. "When I was in college at the University of Texas, I was going to be a criminal defense lawyer,” he says. "For the film I tried to understand all the details of being a defense lawyer. I had a lot of questions for different lawyers about the technical aspects: what's the reality of this situation, how would this go down? Where did I get this information? If my private investigator got bad information, how did he get it?”

Finding the right director to bring THE LINCOLN LAWYER to the screen turned out to be a long process, and it was ultimately McConaughey who suggested that the producers consider director Brad Furman for the job. Recalls McConaughey, "After I accepted the offer to play Mick Haller, we went on a director hunt. I had met Brad Furman for another project that I have at my production company and we clicked.”

Furman had previously directed the feature, THE TAKE, which McConaughey says, "Captures L.A. wonderfully.” The actor adds, "Brad really understands the street aspect of THE LINCOLN LAWYER. He understands how the justice system works, and the injustice inherent in it, too.”

Says Lucchesi. "We spent some time with Brad and then we called up Matthew and said, ‘We really like your guy.' The next thing you know, we committed to Brad and started to make the film.”

Furman particularly appreciated the script's complexity and intelligence as well as the vibrant cast of characters that Romano and Connelly had created. "It's a bit of a throwback to what I believe great films and classic f

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