Chuck, you are the best legal mind I've ever known. Hands down. But your decision-making has become unpredictable. I can't be partners with someone whose judgment I don't trust.
|― Howard asking Chuck to retire for the good of HHM.|
Howard Hamlin is the name partner and general go-to guy toeing the company line for hugely successful Albuquerque law firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Hamlin is one of life’s winners. His good fortune, sun-kissed looks, and more than ample charm prove to be a constant source of frustration for Jimmy as is his relationship with Charles McGill Jr. By constantly following Chuck's lead, Howard serves as one of Jimmy's primary enemies, and also a major enemy to Kim. His actions make him the secondary antagonist of Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3.
At some point, George M. Hamlin co-founded the Hamlin & McGill law firm with Chuck McGill. After being persuaded by his father, Howard joined the firm (eventually making the new name Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill) and eventually it became one of the most successful law firms in Albuquerque.
During Jimmy's time working as a mailroom clerk for Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, Howard and Chuck discovered that Jimmy was working on becoming a lawyer. After all the congratulations within the firm, Howard speaks with Jimmy briefly, telling him that the firm will not hire him. ("RICO")
Due to Chuck's "extended leave of absence" from HHM, Howard practically assumes the single leading position in the firm. Nonetheless, Chuck receives paychecks, the latest one mentioned amounted to $26,000, as a partner of the firm. Jimmy confronts Howard and a few other associates with the torn pieces of the check accusing them of cheating his brother out of his rightful share and demands a $17 million severance package on behalf of Chuck. ("Uno")
Jimmy tries to seize a profitable case by offering his services to Craig and Betsy Kettleman, but fails to do so, which leads to the Kettlemans finally hiring HHM as their representative law firm. When circumstances depict a missing person case, Howard is determined to exclude Jimmy from the investigations at the Kettleman's house although Jimmy could provide essential content. ("Nacho")
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 grudgingly comments Jimmy's action as a mere PR gag. ("Hero")
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 temporal 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 revises 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. ("Pimento")
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. ("Marco")
When she does find a new client, Howard still decides to keep her on document review. ("Rebecca")
With Chuck's help, she 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. ("Bali Ha'i")
Kim accepts Jimmy's offer, Howard accepts Kim's resignation, and they both race to secure Mesa Verde as a client. Kim succeeds, and she agrees with Jimmy to set up their practices in a re-purposed dentists' office. Howard reports Kim's resignation, the loss of Mesa Verde, and her teaming with Jimmy to Chuck. ("Fifi") Howard calls Jimmy to inform him that Chuck has quit HHM. ("Klick")
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. ("Mabel") ("Witness")
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. ("Sabrosito")
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. ("Chicanery")
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. ("Slip")
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. In response, Chuck sues HHM for breach of contract. ("Fall")
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. ("Lantern")
- Howard: "No, but 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 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]
- 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.
- Chuck: "Three million dollars?"
- Howard: "The first of three payments, as per the partnership agreement."
- Chuck: "The firm can't afford this. Are you... ? Your'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.