'The Lincoln Lawyer': Real Stories From Real Lawyers

The Lincoln Lawyer,” starring Matthew McConaughey in his first courtroom-centric role since “A Time to Kill,” throttles its way into theaters today. And, frankly, it’s good to see McConaughey back in business suits (and, alright, the errant wife beater – but who’s complaining?) He proves charismatic and commanding in the role of smooth-talking criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller, who operates out of the back of a Lincoln town car -- or, as Haller calls it, his “office.”

While the rest of the stellar ensemble cast (which includes Marisa Tomei, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Bryan Cranston and Josh Lucas) complements McConaughey pitch-perfectly, it’s clear that this is Matthew’s movie – we can only hope this means more crime thriller leading man roles for him in the future!

McConaughey’s street-savvy, nonconformist character got us thinking: how many other lawyers have found themselves practicing under unconventional or uncomfortable circumstances? What have their most difficult clients forced them to do? What have they put themselves through to solidify their place in the law profession? We spoke to three real-life lawyers, who shed some light on the subject.

Anonymous, General Practice Lawyer:

“A new attorney at my firm had never been to court, let alone criminal court or – more appropriately – Matrimonial Court. The individual was sent to represent a fairly major ex-celebrity who no one in the firm had any desire to represent. The ex-celebrity was before the court for non-payment of many years of child support – he had come in from the UK to New York and they nabbed him. He had a new court date set and, despite the attorney's suggestion to NOT SAY ANYTHING, he vehemently objected that the court date was inconvenient for him as he had to return to the UK. He was quite indignant. At that point, the judge said, "Oh – going back to the UK? Can I have your PASSPORT, please?" The ex-celebrity was then considered a flight risk and immediately thrown in jail pending $10,000 bail, which was eventually posted by his record company. Calling the office to explain how their prestigious client was behind jail bars was traumatic all around.”

Chris, recent law school graduate:

“I was so stressed and exhausted when I was studying for the bar that the day before the exam I packed a bag to go to the hotel I was staying at in the city. I must have been out of my mind because when I opened the bag at the hotel, I realized I’d packed everything BUT a change of clothes! Now, with the rough economy (especially in the legal field), I have started to consider alternate careers (frankly, when I went to law school I didn't think I would need an alternate career after becoming a lawyer...) I have literally considered everything from a career in finance to working at a sloth rescue center in Costa Rica (I'm serious). As I am writing this email I am sitting in an airport waiting to fly to LA to see if I can possibly find something out there.”

Marisa, NY attorney and tattoo blogger for www.needlesandsins.com:

“In the late nineties, on my first day of work at a stereotypical Wall Street law firm, four other lawyers took me for a fancy lunch to welcome me into the fold. All of us in dark suits and pasty white faces politely conversed about acceptable topics, all the while making sure we were using the right fork, until a man with neon hair, neck tattoos, and multiple facial piercings flashed before the window next to where we sat. The forks dropped. The man outside walked on, but his presence still lingered at our table. “I don’t understand these freaks with all the tattoos and piercings,” started one at our table, and the discussion spiraled onwards towards burning the tattooed at the stake. Fortunately for me, my piercings and tattoos at the time were easily covered, otherwise I would’ve gotten singed. I kept quiet, did my job, made the firm money. And then almost two years later, I eventually revealed that I indeed was “a tattooed and pierced freak.” But that reveal came soon after I had made up my mind that I would leave the firm. On one of my last days there, two out of the four lawyers at that first lunch asked if I would let them accompany me when I got my next tattoo. I did and it changed their minds completely.”

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