You know what I'm doing in there? Take a guess. I'm doing damage control. And I'm doing it three meals a day for the past two weeks with every one of our clients! I am busting my ass, trying to repair the reputation of the firm after you and Jimmy dragged it through the mud!
|― Howard venting his anger at Kim at a lunch meeting.|
Howard Hamlin is a senior partner at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, a renowned Albuquerque-based law firm. He was the longtime friend and colleague of fellow partner Chuck McGill, as well as being the former employer of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler. Howard later becomes a foil to Jimmy and Kim after they began to scheme against him to win the Sandpiper case.
Howard Hamlin was presumably born in the early or mid 1950s.
Howard Hamlin's father, George, co-founded the Hamlin & McGill law firm with Charles "Chuck" McGill. After being persuaded to become a lawyer by his father and being mentored through law school by Chuck, Howard joined the firm — changing the name to Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill — and it eventually became one of the most successful law firms in Albuquerque.
Chuck convinced his younger brother Jimmy, a former con artist, to move to Albuquerque and earn an honest living by working in HHM's mailroom. While Jimmy was working there, Howard and Chuck discovered that Jimmy was working on becoming a lawyer. After Jimmy passed the bar exam, Howard came to Jimmy's congratulatory party in the mailroom and, speaking to him alone, revealed that HHM would not be hiring him. ("")
Better Call Saul
A year-and-a-half before the start of the series, Chuck's electromagnetic hypersensitivity forces him to take an "extended leave of absence" from HHM. Howard practically assumes sole leadership of the firm, while Chuck receives a weekly $26,000 stipend. Jimmy confronts Howard, accusing HHM of cheating his brother out of his rightful share, and demands a $17 million severance package on behalf of Chuck. Howard responds by lowering Chuck's stipend to $857.("") Later, Jimmy tries and fails to offer his services to Craig and Betsy Kettleman, a couple accused of embezzling county funds, but they instead turn to HHM. When the Kettlemans go missing, Howard works to exclude Jimmy from the police investigations even though Jimmy could provide essential evidence. ("")
In reaction to Chuck advising Jimmy to change his name as an attorney to avoid mistakings with HHM, Jimmy intentionally evokes imitation in public by copying the layout of an HHM banner showing Howard for his own advertisement. In the following court action, the judge decides in Howard's favor thus commanding Jimmy to remove his banner. However, Jimmy turns the tide in his favor by combining the banner removal with a publicity maneuver to gain local popularity. Upon seeing these latest news Howard begrudgingly comments Jimmy's action as a mere PR gag. ("")
As Jimmy finds a very profitable new case Chuck offers his help and begins a temporary law partnership with his brother. Later on, he also persuades Jimmy into striking up a cooperation with HHM, an option Jimmy refuses to take at first. When Jimmy is asleep, Chuck dares to leave his house wearing his space blanket and calls an unknown party, which later turns out to have been Howard.
For Chuck's first meeting in the law firm building for a long time Howard gathers the entire staff to shower Chuck with applause upon his arrival. In the meeting Howard agrees with Jimmy on financial terms for his cooperation and furtherance of the case. However, he also states that HHM is only interested in the case itself and not in Jimmy taking up a temporary job as an attorney at HHM, as Jimmy was expecting to be the case. Shocked and hurt, Jimmy seethes that he would rather burn down the whole thing to the ground before giving it to Hamlin.
When Jimmy's friend Kim Wexler learns about his disapprobation she questions Howard about the reasons for this decision. Howard tells her that this is none of her concern and kindly advises her to keep her questions for herself in a harsh undertone. Just moments after insisting upon Kim leaving his room, he changes his mind and tells her to come back and close the door as what he is going to tell her apparently needs to be maintained as a secret. Through this conversation Kim seems to learn that in fact Chuck begrudges Jimmy his success as a lawyer and that Howard turned down Jimmy's application and his appointment just upon Chuck's instruction to do so. ("")
After learning of Chuck's actions, Jimmy turns the case over to Howard as well as taking care of Chuck. Howard reveals that he only kept Jimmy out on Chuck's orders and actually really likes Jimmy and respects him. In return, Jimmy apologizes for his opinion of Howard. Later, when HHM has to partner with another firm on the case Jimmy brought them, Kim works to get Jimmy a job there and tells him that Howard was pushing for him to get the chance too as its at a place Chuck has no control over. ("")
As Jimmy is deliberating with himself in the courthouse parking lot, inside, Kim and Howard are waiting to introduce him to his potential employers from Davis & Main. After a moment, Jimmy strides into the courthouse and confidently greets senior partner Clifford Main and two associates. Before the conversation can continue, he pulls Kim aside and asks if things would change between them if he takes the job. A surprised Kim responds they absolutely nothing to do with the other, which Jimmy accepts. He returns to the group and tells them that he must remove himself from consideration by Davis & Main. He smiles and walks away, leaving everyone stunned ("").
Later on, Howard arrives at Chuck's house with a grocery delivery. Howard delicately informs Chuck that Jimmy was hired by Davis & Main in a partner-track position to maintain continuity on the Sandpiper Crossing case. Taken aback, Chuck asks whether Cliff is aware of Jimmy’s background. Howard says he painted a full, honest picture of Jimmy - but also admits that he didn’t stand in the way of Jimmy being hired. As Howard departs, Chuck sits scowling in silence. Howard later appears at a meeting with representatives from Davis & Main to confer on the Sandpiper case. Jimmy begins to report on his client outreach efforts, but his self-assurance shatters when Chuck appears at the meeting ("").
Howard is present at another meeting with the Sandpiper co-counsel at HHM, with Chuck again in attendance. Turning to the topic of client outreach, Cliff offers to save Jimmy from having to brag about recently gaining more than 200 new clients in the past few weeks. Suspicious of his success rate in Amarillo from only a single response to their mailer, Chuck poses the concern that solicitation - an illegal practice - was involved. Jimmy insists the residents came to him, not the other way around ("").
After Jimmy airs a commercial without the consent of Clifford Main and his partners, Kim is brought in front of Howard and Chuck, and Howard chews out Kim over her failure to inform them about Jimmy's commercial. As a result, Kim is demoted to document review. She forbids Jimmy from talking to Howard about it as it will only make the situation worse ("").
In order to get her position back, Kim continues to search for a new client for HHM. At last, she receives a return call from Paige Novick, who works as senior counsel for Mesa Verde Bank & Trust. Kim jumps for joy after arranging a meeting over the phone, her cheer reverberating in the empty parking garage. The next day, Kim and Howard greet Paige and Kevin Wachtell, the CEO of Mesa Verde, in the lobby of HHM. After a successful meeting, Kim offers to draw up a list of associates to assign to the case. Howard, still angry at her, informs her that someone else will spearhead that as Kim has enough on her plate in doc review. He heads back inside, leaving Kim disheartened and disillusioned. Howard later visits Chuck to share the good news about Mesa Verde. Chuck is impressed that Kim has snagged $250,000 in billings and possibly years of work for HHM, but Howard indicates that he hasn't forgiven her yet. ("") With Chuck's help however, Kim is reinstated to her old position, but she is treated coldly by Howard who gives her the most humiliating and menial assignments, such as sending her to try and argue unwinnable motions at court. ("")
After deciding to quit HHM and start a solo practice with Jimmy, Kim meets with Howard in his office and hands him her letter of resignation. Howard shows no surprise, since he heard through the grapevine that Kim will be joining Schweikart and Cokely. Kim tells Howard that she'll work as a solo practitioner, and he deduces that she will be working together with Jimmy. He voices his admiration over Kim's "fresh start", claiming that he always wanted to start his own firm, take on the world and make a difference. However, his father talked him into joining HHM. Kim expresses her gratitude for everything HHM has done for her, especially her law school tuition, and says that she's willing to pay for the remainder of her loan. Howard tells her that she won't have to pay them back, wishing her good luck as she leaves his office. Outside, Kim overhears Howard order his assistant to get him Mesa Verde on the phone and cancel everything he had lined up that morning, anticipating her intent to take her client with her. Realizing that time is of the essence, she sprints back to her office and calls Paige to set up a meeting with her and Kevin Wachtell. She is later able to convince Paige and Kevin to be her clients rather than HHM.
Howard later drops by Chuck's place to inform him that HHM may lose Mesa Verde to Kim. Chuck is rattled about the news that she is pooling her resources with Jimmy, comparing him with Svengali. Howard has managed to set up a meeting with Kevin in the afternoon to try and keep Mesa Verde as a client, but needs Chuck's help since compliance law is not his strong suit. He asks Chuck for arguments and bullet-points, but Chuck is ready to attend the meeting himself, reassuring Howard that the lights will stay on and he will behave as normal. In the meeting, Chuck - to Howard's horror - initially tells Kevin that Kim is indeed the right and obvious choice to handle Mesa Verde. Chuck claims to be boring, reading FEC and ISO reports for entertainment, since the rules are always changing and the penalties for even the most honest of errors can be devastating. Slowly but surely, Chuck gets his point across - he is far more experienced than Kim and, no matter how talented one individual may be, the needs of Mesa Verde are too big to handle alone. Kevin is convinced to stay with HHM. As he leaves, Howard congratulates Chuck on his success. Chuck, however, collapses into Howard's arms, the prolonged exposure to the electricity finally taking its toll on him. ("")
A week later, Howard and Chuck are scheduled, along with Kevin Wachtell and Paige Novick, to appear before the New Mexico State Banking Board to get final approval for the new Mesa Verde branch. Despite Howard's offer to attend the meeting alone, Chuck insists on coming along. From the park across the street, Jimmy watches Chuck and Howard drive off, then he proceeds to run into Chuck's house with a stack of files to remove ones that he has doctored to sabotage the two of them.
At the courthouse, Chuck almost has an EMS attack walking through the metal detector, but he manages to keep his composure. Before the board, Kevin starts to deliver an opening statement in support of the application, arguing that Mesa Verde's new branch is beneficial for everyone. The argument is cut off when an aide delivers a file to the board's commissioner. Taken off guard by the sudden interruption, Chuck tries to clear things up and on request of the board recites the address of the proposed branch as 1216 Rosella Drive—the phoney address created by Jimmy. Over the discrepancy of information in the application and the original submission, the hearing breaks down and is ultimately postponed to six weeks later, especially since Chuck—in spite of Kevin's and Paige's insistence—refuses to accept that he used the wrong address, which greatly frustrates them. As Chuck returns home, he frantically sifts through the paperwork, dismissing Howard's attempts of comforting him. As he finds that the files all contain the '1261' address, he realizes Jimmy's complicity (""). After suffering a head injury and returning home, Chuck quits HHM, concerning Howard who calls Jimmy and tells him of what Chuck is doing. In actuality it is all part of a ploy by Chuck to bait Jimmy into confessing to doctoring Mesa Verde's files, which succeeds ("").
Howard is invited to Chuck's house and listens to his cassette tape of Jimmy's confession to doctoring the Mesa Verde files. While Howard is outraged by Jimmy's actions, he reminds Chuck that the tape can't be used against Jimmy in court, nor can it be used to lure Mesa Verde back to HHM. He is later present when an enraged Jimmy, having been tipped off about the tape's existence as part of Chuck's master plan, breaks into the house and destroys the tape. With Howard and Chuck's private investigator being witnesses to the incident, Jimmy is arrested for the break-in. ("") ("")
Howard represents Chuck when he, Jimmy, and Kim meet with DDA Kyra Hay to discuss a pre-prosecution diversion agreement in which Jimmy confesses to the break-in and submits that confession to the New Mexico Bar Association (which would guarantee Jimmy being disbarred) in exchange for avoiding jail. After the meeting, Kim confronts Howard and Chuck and informs them of her intent to suppress the tape, which Chuck had duplicated. ("")
Before Jimmy's bar hearing, Howard tries to dissuade Chuck from testifying, reasoning that the case will be strong enough with his own testimony; Chuck dismisses this advice, eager to see through his plot to have Jimmy disbarred. During Howard's testimony, Kim undermines his claims that Chuck blocked Jimmy to avoid nepotism by making him admit that he himself is the son of one of HHM's named partners. Howard also admits to the fact that Jimmy didn't know about Chuck's actions and states that he sees a lot of potential in Jimmy. Later, Howard, along with everyone else, watches in shock as Chuck delivers a rant showing his resentment towards Jimmy and desperation to get him disbarred. ("") After Jimmy is suspended for a year, Howard visits Chuck with a 35 year old bottle of Macallan scotch. He claims that they were still victorious as Jimmy will not be a lawyer for a whole year and is likely to screw up and be suspended indefinitely. He encourages Chuck to move on and no longer worry about Jimmy as he claims he is not worth it and that it is simply a waste of his time and intellect. Chuck appears to agree and toasts to "new beginnings". ("")
Two weeks after Chuck's meltdown, Howard runs into Kim having a meeting with Paige and Kevin while he has his own lunch meeting and intrudes briefly upon it to pointedly remind Kim of her time in doc review at HHM. Immediately afterwards, Kim writes a check to Howard for the money he paid for her law school loans. After their guests leave, Howard angrily confronts Kim, particularly due to the timing. Howard tells Kim that he has spent the last two weeks meeting with clients for every meal to try to do damage control on the firm's reputation. Kim is unrepentant, telling Howard she merely represented her client and if he hid Chuck's true condition from his clients, its on him. Howard tears up Kim's check, stating that her debt is forgiven, but everything else is not. He later visits Chuck at his home to talk about Chuck's malpractice insurance and is amazed and pleased to learn that Chuck has gone grocery shopping on his own. ("")
During a meeting with HHM's insurance representatives, Howard learns that they wish to double the premium of each of the firm's lawyers in response to learning of Chuck's EHS and breakdown in court. They offer an alternative where a senior partner monitors Chuck in court for free, either of which is bad for HHM. After the meeting ends with Chuck threatening to sue, Howard attempts to get Chuck to retire as Howard no longer trusts Chuck and his decisions. Chuck is furious and storms out of the room.
At the parking garage of HHM the next day, Jimmy confronts Howard about the Sandpiper Crossing settlement offer, pointing out that HHM stands to gain over a few million dollars from the offer that they want to put off. Jimmy asks Howard to settle immediately, saying it would be the right thing to do for the clients. Howard refuses, seeing that Jimmy is feigning concern for the clients and is only interested in his cut of the money. He insults Jimmy and claims it is like talking to Gollum and that Jimmy is transparent and pathetic and even offers him a handout from his wallet to torment him. He warns Jimmy against employing any dirty tricks to get the settlement approved or leaking information to Schweikart and Cokely, knowing that he is willing to resort that low but won't because he's too greedy. Howard claims Jimmy will get his money but he will have to wait for it.
Howard's secretary later delivers him an envelope from Chuck, which he assumes is Chuck's resignation letter. He directs his secretary to make plans for a big retirement party. Unfortunately, he's spoken too soon, as he opens to envelope to find Chuck plans to sue HHM for breach of contract. Howard goes to Chuck's house to confront him, noticing that Chuck has reinstalled some of the electrical appliances. Chuck insists that he is overcoming his EHS delusion, and vows to fight Howard in court in order to retain control of the firm he built from the ground up, threatening to liquidate the firm if he doesn't get his way. After Howard leaves, Chuck is forced to put down an electrical cooking implement, showing that he is still struggling with living around electricity. ("")
At a meeting with the senior partners, Chuck offers to drop the lawsuit if they will let him return. Instead, Howard clears the room and states that Chuck has gone too far with his vendettas. Howard offers Chuck a $3 million check with a promise of two more payments as per the partnership agreement. Howard reveals that the money comes from both his own finances and a few loans, causing Chuck to realize that Howard is buying him out out of Howard's own pocket. With Chuck's financial blackmail removed, Howard announces his immediate departure to the rest of the firm and watches from the lobby balcony as Chuck departs HHM for the last time. ("")
After Jimmy ignores a call from him, Howard calls Kim's apartment and leaves a message for Kim, who had been urged by Jimmy not to pick up the phone, that he urgently needs to reach Jimmy about Chuck. When Jimmy arrives at Chuck's burned-out house, he finds Howard behind him, standing near a coroner's van. As Jimmy realizes that Chuck is dead, Howard urges him not to look before walking away, leaving Jimmy alone with his grief. Howard talks with the fire inspector alongside Kim to learn exactly what happened to Chuck. Howard later calls Jimmy with the obituary he wrote for Chuck, but Jimmy gets emotional and Kim has to finish the call for him. After comforting Chuck's ex-wife at the funeral, a grieving Howard visits Kim and Jimmy and tells them that he thinks Chuck committed suicide. Howard admits to forcing Chuck out of the firm after the incident with the malpractice insurance and believes he pushed Chuck to suicide. Howard and Kim are both left shocked by Jimmy's nonchalant response to Howard's revelation, unaware that the problem with the insurance was really Jimmy's fault. ("")
Howard attends a meeting with Rebecca where they sign paperwork regarding Chuck's estate. When Kim arrives on Jimmy's behalf, Howard explains that Chuck left the house to Rebecca and as executor of Chuck's estate, Howard will be liquidating the property. The two offer to let Jimmy go through whatever is left and take whatever he wants, but Kim lets them know that Jimmy doesn't want any of it. Howard gives Kim an agreement letter to disperse Jimmy's share of the estate. Howard admits that it will be $5,000 which Kim recognizes is the amount you give someone when you want to cut them out of the estate but don't want them to contest the will, just enough money to show that the recipient isn't forgotten. Howard tells Kim that Chuck also left a substantial endowment for a scholarship for deserving youth and he hopes that Jimmy will serve on the board, something that Kim promises to tell him about as well as a personal letter for Jimmy's eyes only. Once Rebecca is gone, Kim angrily confronts Howard over his actions since Chuck's death, berating him to the point that Howard's voice breaks when he asks what he can do to make it better, but Kim tells him that there's nothing he can do besides stay away and storms out. ("")
Later, when arriving at the courthouse for his court-mandated PPD check-in, Jimmy steps into the courthouse restroom and finds Howard, who is fidgety and disheveled. Despite initially insisting that everything is fine, Howard alludes to suffering from insomnia. Jimmy suggests that he see Kim's therapist, but Howard replies that he is already seeing someone twice a week. After Howard leaves, Jimmy tears up the business card of Kim's therapist and flushes it down the toilet. ("")
Jimmy later visits Howard at HHM, collecting the $5,000 check bequeathed to him in Chuck's will. After Jimmy notes that a lot of the cubicles outside are empty, Howard admits that HHM has been forced to lay off staff due to "setbacks," partly because of difficulty paying out to Chuck's estate. When Jimmy asks what the plan is to get the firm back on its feet, Howard doesn't answer. Jimmy tries to motivate Howard, telling him to quit "wallowing" and fight to save HHM. When he calls Howard "a shitty lawyer but a great salesman," Howard retorts with, "Fuck you, Jimmy." Jimmy encourages Howard to use this rage to get the firm back on track. ("")
A year after Chuck's suicide, Howard attends the dedication of the Charles L. McGill Reading Room and does an interview with Joey Dixon. Howard admits that although its been a tough year for HHM, the firm is back. Although Howard wishes he could take credit for the dedication, he admits that he's only a guest and that it was an anonymous donor instead. Later, Howard leads a meeting to determine who will receive scholarships from the firm and is impressed by Jimmy's argument to hold a revote for a candidate that only Jimmy voted for. However, she is voted down. ("")
Jimmy, now going by Saul Goodman, finally agrees to meet with Howard who briefly introduces Jimmy to Judge Lawler. Howard asks Jimmy, who agrees to allow Howard to continue to call him Jimmy, about what kind of person Saul Goodman is. Howard is impressed by Jimmy's description of Saul, though curious as to why he didn't just do those things as Jimmy McGill instead. Howard admits that HHM did Jimmy wrong and in doing so, tainted his name which made it easier for Jimmy to become Saul to do his work. Howard expresses remorse for not standing up to Chuck and hiring Jimmy when he first got barred and later when Jimmy brought HHM the Sandpiper Crossing case. Howard offers Jimmy a job at HHM, stating that he feels the bad blood they've dealt with in the past was between Jimmy and Chuck, not Jimmy and himself. Howard was inspired by Jimmy standing up for Kristy Esposito at the scholarship committee meeting and with HHM growing again, Howard believes he could use someone with Jimmy's personality and talents. The two men finish lunch and part on good terms with Jimmy stunned by Howard's offer.
Howard later approaches Jimmy at the courthouse, asking once again about the HHM offer to which Jimmy once again claims he is thinking it over. Howard then rescinds the offer and acknowledges that he's clearly upset Jimmy, citing the bowling balls and prostitutes as evidence to which Jimmy feigns ignorance. Howard tells Jimmy that he is sorry that he is in pain (obviously over Chuck's death); Jimmy becomes furious and angrily blames Howard for Chuck's death and loudly proclaims that he has grown too big for the constraints of an HHM job, mocking Howard as he calmly walks out while Jimmy makes a scene. ("")
Howard and his associates briefly share an elevator with Kim, where he learns she has quit Schweikart and Cokely to pursue pro bono work. He asks for a moment of her time, where he tells Kim about Jimmy's recent harassment of him and suggests Kim stop taking his lead and for Jimmy to get help. Kim bursts out laughing at him before calling his words patronizing and insulting, claiming she makes decisions for herself and that Howard does not know Jimmy. Howard, hurt and upset, retorts that Chuck knew Jimmy best before storming out.
Howard's words stick with Kim, and she later tells Jimmy that Howard had tried to "white knight" her before congratulating his harassment of Howard. She begins suggesting further retaliation, such as drugging Howard to shave his head or filling his pool with bleach. She continues escalating ideas before suggesting they frame Howard for "something unforgivable" to ruin his career and get Jimmy his cut of the Sandpiper settlement; an idea Kim is set on, to Jimmy's mounting shock and concern for Howard. ("Something Unforgivable")
Jimmy and Kim kick their plot against Howard into full gear. At the El Camino Dining Room, the two scheme about how to frame Howard; Kim begins to suggest an inaudible plan to Jimmy after describing that it has to be well-paced so Howard won't know it's coming, and that it has to make sense. The next day, Jimmy and Kim are seen spying on Howard playing golf with Cliff Main at a country club. Jimmy enters the club and introduces himself to Norm Wakely as Saul Goodman, asking for a tour. The two run into Kevin Wachtell, who tells Norm about Jimmy's misgivings, prompting Norm to ask Jimmy to leave. This provokes an argument between Kevin and Jimmy in which Jimmy levels accusations of antisemitism at Norm as the reason why he's suddenly being denied a tour. Jimmy is eventually allowed access to the men's locker room and after creating a distraction for the attendant by clogging the toilet, he ascertains the location of Howard's locker and slips a small plastic bag of baby powder designed to look like cocaine into the locker. He is able to hide from Howard and Cliff just in time for the two to return, overhearing the confusion amid the discovery of the bag. ("")
Later, Jimmy and Kim continue scheming about how to rope Cliff into the plot against Howard. Kim has discovered Betsy and Craig Kettleman, the latter of whom having since been released from prison, are running a tax preparation firm called Sweet Liberty Tax Services in the desert. Jimmy visits the office, much to the chagrin of Betsy, who initially declines Jimmy's offer to work with them again but later relents under the pretense that Jimmy has information that could lead to their complete exoneration. After the Kettlemans sign letters of engagement with Jimmy, he leads them to believe Howard was under the influence of cocaine during their case, but Betsy promptly fires Jimmy. Later, the Kettlemans are seen consulting with Cliff, who dismisses their claims about Howard and declines to represent them, citing their cooperation with HHM on the Sandpiper Crossing settlement. ("")
The next day, Jimmy deploys Huell Babineaux to swipe the keys to Howard's car from a valet attendant. Huell hands off the keys to another associate in the back of a van who makes a duplicate of the keys and a mechanism to remotely lock and unlock the Jaguar. They operate with enough time to spare before the valet attendant notices the missing keys, and when he comes back to retrieve them they are laying on the ground beneath the car. Huell demonstrates the mechanism to Jimmy and gives him the keys. ("")
When Howard visits his therapist, Jimmy, who has dressed and styled himself to look exactly like Howard, uses the duplicate keys to steal Howard's car. While Kim meets with Cliff over lunch, Jimmy picks up Wendy from the Crossroads Motel and waits for Kim's go-ahead. As Kim and Cliff end their lunch meeting, Howard's car speeds around a corner and skids to a stop as Jimmy pushes Wendy out of the car; he drives off as she screams in his direction that he owes her. Cliff watches dumbfounded, under the impression that Howard is responsible, and connects the dots. Jimmy is able to return Howard's car to his therapist's office despite the fact that the original parking spot has been taken, and Howard appears to be none the wiser. ("")
Later, Howard and Cliff watch Erin Brill preside over a meeting with the elderly plaintiffs in the Sandpiper Crossing class action suit. Howard quickly inserts himself as the leader after the residents become disillusioned with Erin's explanation that class action settlements have protracted timelines, and uses his charisma to get back on their good side. After the meeting, Cliff confronts Howard regarding what he's seen. After vehemently denying his involvement, Howard asks Cliff with whom he was meeting, and he tells Howard it was Kim. Howard puts the pieces together, tells Cliff—who is under the impression that he really does need help with a drug problem—that he has a "Jimmy McGill problem," and calls his assistant to tell her to cancel his entire week. Howard then lures Jimmy to a boxing ring under the pseudonym H. O. Ward, and the two of them "punch it out," with Howard triumphing after punching Jimmy in the stomach. Outside the boxing ring, Howard confers with a private investigator in the latter's car, telling him to watch everything Jimmy does and monitor to whom he talks. ("")
Some time later, Howard gets ready for work at his house; getting dressed, polishing his shoes, and placing his suit jacket in his Jaguar. He labors over his espresso machine, making a cappuccino with foam art in the shape of a peace sign for his wife, Cheryl. She halfheartedly thanks her husband before getting a reusable travel mug and pouring the cappuccino into it as Howard watches, visibly dismayed. Howard then warns Cheryl vaguely that he believes the situation with Jimmy is getting worse, and tells her it's possible she may "hear or see something. I couldn't say what." He reassures her he's dedicated to putting an end to it, and she leaves the house after barely exchanging any pleasantries with her husband. Later that day at HHM, Howard's private investigator briefs him on the last few days of Jimmy's activities; he walks through a series of photos of Jimmy's routine, but Howard interrupts him, questioning a photo he found. The private investigator says this is the only time Jimmy broke the pattern, stopping at a bank before he went to his office to withdraw an estimated $20,000 in cash. Howard says there's no legitimate reason a lawyer would need to make such a withdrawal. ("")
Personality and Traits
- "Sun-kissed and patrician, Howard Hamlin is one of life's winners. Chuck's law partner in the wildly succesful firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Howard's good looks, charm and succes are only part of the reason Jimmy can't stand him."
- ―Information about Howard.
Howard is a successful member of Albuquerque's legal community, and speaks and acts in a thoughtful and professional manner. However, due to his golden-boy image and position as a name partner of HHM, he sometimes comes off as arrogant, a trait that vexes Jimmy as he considered Howard responsible for his station in life. Many of his decisions come across as unfairly strict, such as when he reassigned Kim to document review as punishment for losing the Kettleman case; giving him the image of an uncaring corporate overlord from Jimmy's perspective. He initially blocked Jimmy from working as a lawyer at HHM, although this was revealed to be at the behest of Chuck. For much of the first three seasons, Howard assisted Chuck in his attempts to prevent Jimmy from finding success as an attorney, though he took no pleasure whatsoever in it and simply did it all out of loyalty to Chuck.
However, it is shown that most of Howard's decisions are what he feels to be in the best interests of his firm and employees. Howard stood up to Chuck when his increasingly erratic behavior threatened the firm's future, going so far as to fire Chuck and pay his severance money out of pocket. He has also demonstrated compassion, such as when he forgave Kim's scholarship debt and attempted to give Jimmy a second chance at HHM. It is also hinted that Howard felt somewhat railroaded into his position by his father, George Hamlin, and feels pressure to live up to his position as name partner, particularly when HHM goes through financial hardship.
It is later revealed that he personally liked Jimmy, giving him the nickname "Charlie Hustle", and may sympathize with him living in Chuck's shadow due to also being related to a successful lawyer, his father George Hamlin. Howard saw his unique personality as a potential asset to the firm, having considered hiring him before Chuck vetoed him. Howard instead put in a good word for Jimmy at Davis & Main. In Season 5, Howard offers Jimmy the chance to come to work at HHM, although Jimmy - now Saul at this point - bears too much of a grudge to accept and now views himself as being above such a position, and later attempts to sabotage Howard by smashing his car with bowling balls and humiliating him by sending prostitutes to his business lunch.
Howard was devastated and felt personally responsible for Chuck's suicide, having fired him just days before his death - unaware that Jimmy was responsible for the insurance hike that precipitated those events. In the aftermath of Chuck's death Howard went into debt and HHM was forced to make layoffs in order to stay in business, and during this period Howard was plagued by insomnia and seeing a therapist. One year after Chuck's death, Howard seemed to have recovered mentally and financially along with his firm and seems to have made peace with himself, as exemplified by his license plate NAMAST3. He is even shown searching for forgiveness for his past actions of denying Jimmy a job at HHM by generously offering him a position at his firm.
Howard is extremely good at reading people and is one of the few to realize the inner pain Jimmy suffers from due to Chuck's suicide, even though he'll never admit it and even appears to recognize that Jimmy is jealous and enraged of how he has been able to move on from his grief over his friend's death while Jimmy obviously has not, hence his harassment of Howard. Even though Jimmy blames him solely for Chuck's death and berates him for being a small man in comparison to him, Howard demonstrates patience and composure and simply walks away without a word while Jimmy humiliates himself and makes a scene, showing his unwillingness to fall for Jimmy's games. By the end of the fifth season of Better Call Saul it is evident that Howard has accepted that Chuck was indeed right all along about Jimmy being a dangerous crook. Despite her past treatment of him, Howard still shows concern for Kim and tries desperately to warn her of Jimmy's actions and that he needs help though she refuses to accept it and instead finds Jimmy's harassment of Howard amusing and claims he is wrong and does not understand Jimmy. Howard however sees right through her and stands his ground and boldly tells her Chuck best understood Jimmy.
Deaths connected to Howard
- Charles McGill Jr. Jimmy discloses Chuck's mental illness to his insurance company ("") after Jimmy's disbarment hearing (""), which causes his malpractice insurance rates to increase. This causes a rift between Chuck and Howard after their insurance agent subsequently informs them that Chuck will need to be supervised by another attorney or otherwise face a premium increase. Howard attempts to force him out of the company; Chuck retaliates by threatening to sue him for his share of the partnership. Pressured by this stress, Chuck commits suicide ("").
- Howard: "... we've been using this particular font for 12 years now, and it, in concert with our tri-rectangle graphic and Hamlindigo Blue, constitutes a trademarked brand identifier."
- Jimmy: "Whoa, whoa. Back up. Hamlindigo Blue?"
- Howard: "Yes. That is our trademarked name."
- Jimmy: "Holy crap. You seriously named a color "Hamlindigo"? That is... yikes."
- Howard: "Yikes? From the man dressed exactly like me. Your Honor, I feel like I'm in the mirror routine with Groucho Marx, like we should be standing, waving our arms at each other!"
- ―Howard and Jimmy are appearing before a judge, due to Jimmy erecting a billboard that deliberately imitates HHM's logo and branding.[src]
- Kim: "I don't know what image you have of him, past or present, or whatever he did or said, but Jimmy is a good lawyer. And he works very hard."
- Howard: "Did your friend send you in here to say that?"
- Kim: "No. I'm saying it because I believe it."
- Howard: "Well, duly noted. Want to know what I believe? I believe that you're way out of your depth in this matter. So the next time that you want to come in here and tell me what I'm doing wrong, you are welcome to keep it to yourself. Because I don't care."
- ―Kim and Howard argue about HHM's treatment of Jimmy.[src]
- Howard: "Chuck, you're at a crossroads. You can keep looking backwards, stay focused on your brother, what he's up to, or you can go forward. And Chuck. listen to me. Jimmy's just not worth it. Where would we be if, say, Clarence Darrow had deveoted the best years of his life to supervising ne'er-do-well relatives? Think of the cases he wouldn't have taken, the injustices that would have gone unanswered. What a waste. I say, put your energy into the future. Anything else is a waste of your time and intellect. What do you say?"
- Chuck: "[After a moment] To new beginnings."
- ―Howard trying to remobilize and remotivate Chuck around a very good bottle of alcohol.[src]
- "You know what I'm doing in there? Take a guess. I'm doing damage control. And I'm doing it three meals a day for the past two weeks with every one of our clients! I am busting my ass, trying to repair the reputation of the firm after you and Jimmy dragged it through the mud!"
- ―Howard venting his anger at Kim at a lunch meeting.
- Chuck: "What are you talking about, Howard?"
- Howard: "What I'm saying is... maybe it's time to hang up your spurs. Become partner emeritus. Leave your name on the firm, but focus on your legacy. You always said you wanted to work on The Commerce Clause. You can write the book on it."
- Chuck: "And no longer be a practicing lawyer?"
- Howard: "Chuck, there's more to life than this."
- Chuck: "That day is far in the future, Howard... and I don't appreciate the suggestion."
- Howard: "What if it's not a suggestion?"
- Chuck: "Meaning?"
- Howard: "Meaning, if enough tell you that you're drunk... maybe it's time to sit down."
- ―Howard forcing Chuck to retire from HHM.[src]
- Chuck: "Look. You see? I'm better! Howard, I'm fine!"
- Howard: "This is not what 'fine' looks like."
- ―Chuck and Howard about Chuck's condition.[src]
- Chuck: "Yes, I'm suing HHM for breach of contract."
- Howard: "Do you have any idea what you're doing?"
- Chuck: "I believe I do. I'm calling your bluff. This is MY firm. I built it. Your father was working in a 2 room office when I joined him, and you, I tutored for the bar exam. You're not kicking me out. If you can't trust my judgement then, as you say, so be it. But you're going to have to pay me for my share. I believe it comes to around 8 million dollars. We both know the firm doesn't have the money."
- Howard: "You'd rather tear down HHM than retire?"
- Chuck: "You think I'm trouble now, as your partner? Imagine me as your enemy."
- ―Chuck and Howard arguing after Chuck decided to sue HHM.[src]
- Howard: "17 years. 18 in July, actually. All those years we built this place together. And all that time I've supported you. Looked up to you, deferred to you. Because I always thought you had the best interests of the firm in mind."
- Chuck: "I have."
- Howard: "You did. For a long time. But you've let personal vendettas turn your focus away from what's best for HHM. You've put your needs first. To our detriment."
- Chuck: "I don't think that's accurate."
- Howard: "And the moment that I mildly suggest, with empathy and concern, that maybe it's time for you to consider retirement the first instinct you have is to sue me?! To sue the firm? Well, I I-I don't even know I-In what world is that anything but the deepest betrayal of everything we worked so hard to accomplish? In what world is that anything but the deepest betrayal of our friendship?"
- ―Howard confronting Chuck.[src]
- Chuck: "Three million dollars?"
- Howard: "The first of three payments, as per the partnership agreement."
- Chuck: "The firm can't afford this. Are you... ? You're not shutting down, are you?"
- Howard: "I would never endanger the firm. This is mostly from my personal funds... and a few loans."
- Chuck: "You're paying me out of your own pocket?"
- Howard: "You won."
- ―Howard eliminating Chuck's leverage over HHM.[src]
- Howard: "I think I owe you the truth about Chuck. Those lanterns. He was living in that house without electricity for the better part of two years. He knew how to use those lanterns. He was careful, I saw it, I know you did too. There was never a problem. I know it's a terrible thing to. I don't think what happened was an accident. You probably heard Chuck was retiring from HHM. But that's not the truth. The truth is that we had a disagreement, and I pushed him out. I made him go."
- Kim: "Chuck was sick for years. And after the bar hearing–"
- Howard: "The bar hearing had nothing to do with it."
- Kim: "Okay."
- Howard: "The fact is, he started getting better after that. He took more of an interest in the firm, he came to work, we could leave the lights on. He was improving until the thing with the insurance, so i-it wasn't the bar hearing."
- Jimmy: "The insurance?"
- Howard: "It was a ridiculous thing. I should have just let it go. I mean, God knows he's done enough for me. But he kept pushing, and I, um, I got my back up."
- Jimmy: "What about the insurance?"
- Howard: "It was, uh, our malpractice insurance. They found out about Chuck's condition, raised our rates. Chuck went ballistic. He wanted to go to war. I drew a line. He wouldn't back down, so I forced him out. Never occurred to me that I could hurt him. He always seemed so strong. But he wasn't. I think he did what he did because of me."
- Jimmy: "Well, Howard, I guess that's your cross to bear."
- ―Howard telling Jimmy and Kim that Chuck may have committed suicide.[src]
- Howard: "No person in their right mind would behave the way Jimmy has. We are talking about someone who’s not in control of himself. You and I both know it makes no sense to drop a client like Mesa Verde, and I gotta think Jimmy had something to do with that."
- Kim: "Do you have any idea how insulting that is? I make my own decisions for my own reasons."
- Howard: "You gotta listen to me, the man needs help."
- Kim: "Howard, I know Jimmy and you’re wrong."
- Howard: "You know who really knew Jimmy? Chuck."
- ―Howard trying warn Kim about Jimmy.[src]
- "I'm just getting warned up."
- ―Howard to his therapist
- "You're right. I do have a problem. Just not the problem you think. I have a Jimmy McGill problem."
- ―Howard realizes Jimmy is scamming him
- "I am sorry, but have you lost your mind? You didn't even try to hide your tracks. The baggie of drug at the country club. The clients you sent to discredit me. Another prostitute. Please. I could go on. All roads lead back to you. It's Psych 101. You want to get caught."
- ―Howard confronting Jimmy about the scam to ruin him
- Howard Hamlin, Kim Wexler, and Lalo Salamanca are the only major Better Call Saul characters whose fates at the time of Breaking Bad are currently unknown.
- Howard hasn't met Mike Ehrmantraut, Lalo Salamanca or Gustavo Fring and never meets Nacho Varga
- Howard drives a 1998 Jaguar XJ8.
- In early press announcements for the series, his name was Burt and he was described as a "Kennedy-esque lawyer who's winning at life".