Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- "There is no client as scary as an innocent man." This
is the very first line of the book, spoken by J. Michael Haller, a famous
criminal defense attorney and the father of Mickey Haller, the main
character in The Lincoln Lawyer. Did you understand what this meant? Why
would an innocent man scare an attorney?
- "Don't do the crime if you can't pay for my time."
When we are first introduced to Mickey Haller, we find out that he is a
criminal defense attorney who knows how to play all the angles. He has been
in trouble with the California Bar before. His clients are gang members,
drug dealers, prostitutes and con men. He does his best for his clients as
long as they can pay his bill. He seems to be the kind of lawyer that we all
love to hate. How did you feel about this character when you first began
reading about him? "I don't know many people who have ex-wives who
still like them."
- Later we find out that Mickey has two ex-wives, both of whom are still
close to him. One even works for him. He has business associates that are
also loyal longtime friends. He has longtime clients who he continues to
work for, even when they can't pay him. What does this reveal about his
character? Did your feelings toward him as a character change the more you
read about him?
- "There was nothing about the law that I cherished
anymore." Mickey says that: "the law was not about truth.
It was about negotiation, amelioration, manipulation. I didn't deal in guilt
and innocence because everybody was guilty. Of something." It seems
like a very cynical statement. Yet at the same time, Mickey does believe in
a justice system based on checks and balances. He feels like he is an
important cog in the wheel and that everybody is owed a right to defend
themselves. Do you agree with Mickey's view of the law and the justice
system? Would you describe him as a cynic or a realist? Can you understand
the value of defense attorney's within our legal system? Did this book
change your opinion of the justice system?
- "A lot of these new people just don't get it."
Mickey and his ex-wife, deputy district attorney Maggie McPherson, appeared
to have a different view of the law. To her it is a calling and about
justice. She views what he does as sleazy. Mickey says that her calling may
have cost them their marriage. They seem to love each other but can you
understand why their marriage didn't work? Do you think they will end up
- "He looks like a babe in the woods." What was
your initial impression of Louis Ross Roulet? Did you think he was innocent
or guilty? How did your feelings change for him as you read the book?
- "I was always worried that I might not recognize
innocence." Roulet's defense was based on the theory that
Reggie Campo was after his money and that he was set-up. We are meant to
believe that she allowed herself to be beaten up in order to score a big
payoff. Did you believe this at first? Is our society so litigious that we
could easily believe that someone would do that?
- "Any case, Anytime, Anywhere." Did you respect
Mickey's skill as an attorney and his ability to work within and use the
- "He grew up knowing he was going." Many of
Mickey's clients were drug dealers who viewed prison as an anticipated part
of life. Mickey's job was to get them the best deal possible. He felt like
these young men never had a shot at anything but thug life. He listened to
rap music as a way of understanding their lives. Do you think Mickey felt
that he had a calling too - to work for people that he views as the underdog?
Did his attitude surprise you?
- "What's the difference between a catfish and a defense
attorney?" Why are lawyer jokes so commonplace and acceptable?
Mickey says "They always blame the lawyer for making a living,"
but with clients like drug dealers, prostitutes and con men, can you see why
Mickey would be viewed as a pariah by many people?
- "By then the Titanic had already left the dock." Mickey
represented Jesus Menendez in what appeared to be a no-win case. Jesus
couldn't pay him anything but Mickey knew that he would be paid in
publicity, which would help him get other clients. Jesus' claims of
innocence didn't matter. Mickey didn't even try to investigate the case
further. He simply was there to get the best deal for his client. Was
Mickey's lack of effort simply because Jesus couldn't pay for a good defense
or was the evidence available at the time too overwhelming? Do you think you
can get a good defense without money?
- "I had been presented with innocence but I had not seen it or
grasped it." At the time, Mickey viewed Jesus' case as
hopeless. The evidence was overwhelming and Mickey came on board the case
late. If they had gone to trial and lost Jesus might have been sentenced to
death. He admitted to taking the case for the publicity value only. Given
the circumstances, do you think Mickey was right to feel guilty about Jesus?
- "There is no trap so deadly as the one you set for
yourself." Mickey was trying to insure that Raul's murderer
would be caught, that Jesus Menendez would be released, and that Louis Ross
Roulet would go to prison - all while saving his own law practice. But by
doing this all on his own he put his life and the lives of others in
jeopardy. Did you understand why Mickey chose to not tell the police about
Roulet and get them involved?
- "I traded evil for innocence." Mickey uses
questionable ways to make sure that justice is served. He tampered with a
witness (Corliss); he lied to his client and to the police; he withheld
information. Do you think the end justified his actions?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Warner Books Inc..
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.