Courtroom dramas and investigative shows will never go out of style, sure there are some bad ones out there that taint the whole genre but no matter how many are made with the same predictable tropes, they will most often find a special place. There’s something about the lives of hotshot lawyers, underpaid but diligent detectives, spotlight murder trials, captivating courtroom speeches, mysterious deaths, bugged conversations, the hunt for the truth, elimination of lies and all the drama in between that have us hooked each time. To put this legal drama in perspective, The Lincoln Lawyer is where Suits meets Criminal Minds.
Based on the novel The Brass Verdict of The Lincoln Lawyer Series by Michael Connelly, the story follows Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a defence attorney who is just attempting to find work again after a one year hiatus due to a surfing accident. In a stroke of luck, he has way more than just a case file land right into his lap with the death of another attorney.
A bewildered Haller has to now navigate his next move when he is handed multiple cases and an entire practice the deceased has left to him, including an on-going high-profile case of a tech CEO who is accused of killing his wife and a man she was romantically involved with.
Haller who’s programmed to put his defence together while in motion, away from a desk setting, when he’s being driven around in his Lincoln Navigator or moving through LA in his Lincoln Continental Convertable (that’s where he get his gets the name – Lincoln lawyer), is determined to bring home the big win with the assistance of his legal team of two — his second ex-wife/legal aide, Lorna Crain (Becki Newton) and his private investigator Cisco (Angus Sampson) — as this case just might be the one to make or break his career.
As the season unfolds, we get to see more of Haller’s personal life – his relationship with his daughter Hayley (Krista Warner) and first wife/criminal prosecutor Maggie McPherson (Neve Campbell) which draws a beautiful arc that allows a look beyond the shield of the busy hardcore lawyer that he is. Even his interactions with his new-found driver Izzy (Jazz Raycole), a young woman and fellow Oxy addict in recovery, brings out a very different side of him and makes for some heart-warming moments. His anchor is his genuine need to give those falsely-accused a chance to live with their truth outside a confinement, even it means straining his relationships and jeopardising his career.
The series does well in delivering the suspense thriller narrative, with many twists to keep you playing Sherlock and failing miserably at it. The story seamlessly builds up as the episodes pile on with no unnecessary sub-plots to keep you distracted or character arcs to have you reach for the fast-forward button, only multiple interesting diversions that run parallel to the main storyline that gives you a reason to fully engage. Meanwhile, apart from educational legal jargon and a good look into how legal systems function, a light is shed on the flaws in the American justice system, the people who enhance those flaws in the name of ‘service’ and then those who actively try to undo injustice to have the truth prevail. What perhaps sets this one apart from others of its genre is that the lawyers go up against the prosecution rather than the usual lawyer-police driven plots. And given that McPherson is a budding star at the District Attorney’s office and Lincoln lawyer plays on the other side of the courthouse, the ex-lovers try hard to strike a balance as they attempt to rekindle their relationship.
The recipe to a good show is all in the cast and the crew. From the creator of the show, David E. Kelley who comes with a plethora of successful projects under his belt such as Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers, LA Law, and Goliath is accompanied by writers who intricately weave several storylines without jumbling them up. Lastly, the great cast drives the show home with their worthy performances – special mention to Garcia-Rulfo in the lead who delivers a compelling act without trying too hard despite risking comparisons to Mathew McConaughy who portrayed the same character in the film adaptation by the same name.
The Lincoln Lawyer has some serious CBS vibes and there is no surprise its roots indeed does. Initially meant for the channel it later took off on Netflix, and thank goodness it did because it makes for a good binge-worthy watch.
The series has been renewed to return next year with another 10 episodes based on the fourth book in Connelly’s series, The Fifth Witness.
By Dilshani Palugaswewa