Insider Tips on Choosing The Right Lawyer for You
Choosing an attorney to help you or your family member with criminal charges is an important decision, and it can be intimidating. You probably already know that you should find someone with experience handling a case like yours, who also charges something you can afford. But there is more to it than just experience and cost.
Here are some tips everyone should keep in mind when choosing a criminal defense attorney:
Sometimes people are so overwhelmed by a pending criminal case, that they hire a lawyer without much research or thought. If your case has time sensitive issues pending, it may be a good idea to move quickly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take a little time to ask questions about your case. Don't be embarrassed if you don't understand something. If it makes you more comfortable, make a list of questions to bring with you to ask the lawyer before you hire them. A good lawyer should be willing to explain basic issues and walk you through how the process usually unfolds. Don't expect them to spend hours with you before you hire them, but a 30 minute consultation before you hire them is something they should be willing to do for you. Keep in mind, a lawyer may not realize you are confused or concerned about something unless you tell them. So, you should always speak up! You'll feel more confident moving forward if you are comfortable communicating with your lawyer from the beginning, and it will help manage the anxiety you're feeling about your case.
Beware of the Hard Sell
In many professions and industries, there are some people who are very aggressive in trying to make a sale, sign a client, or close that deal. They play on your emotions and that can sometimes lead to making rash decisions you regret later. Have you ever been told "you have to buy this today, this low price won't last!" Don't you hate that? Unfortunately, the legal field has its share of high pressure salesman, too. Be cautious if a lawyer is pushing you very hard to make a payment to hire them that very minute. Are you feeling uncomfortably rushed into the decision? If you are, ask yourself (and ask the lawyer!) what may be wrong with waiting and thinking about it for a day? If your case has time sensitive things happening (like a pending warrant or a court date coming up soon) then you may need to move fast, but the lawyer should be able to clearly explain to you why it needs to be done quickly. If there isn't anything that needs to be addressed immediately, you should be able to take whatever time you need to make a decision on who to hire as your lawyer.
No Attorney Can Guarantee Results
This is an issue that is a problem for both clients and lawyers. Some clients believe they should only pay for an lawyer if they are guaranteed the result they want. However, no ethical lawyer will ever guarantee a result. Each case is unique and while experienced lawyers can explain on how things will likely unfold, there is never absolute certainty about what the result will be. I have turned away potential clients because they wanted me to guarantee a particular result. I will never do that because it is unethical and I do not make promises to my clients that I'm not 100% sure I can keep. The judicial system can be unpredictable and unanticipated issues can arise. There are no guarantees. A client should never demand a guaranteed result from a lawyer and an ethical lawyer will never use a guarantee to lure a client into hiring them.
Is That High Price, High Profile, or High Volume Lawyer The Right Choice for You?
Hiring the most expensive or most well-known lawyer in the area doesn't automatically mean you'll be getting the best legal representation for your particular case. Insiders know there are many lawyers in every county with the same experience and skill as the “big name” lawyer. Those other lawyers will fight just as hard for you to get you a great result, and maybe for much less cost. You also need to consider how much time will that high profile lawyer really spend on your specific case? Are you really getting more by spending more? Are you going to be just a case number in a very busy law practice? Perhaps the “big name” lawyer really is the best lawyer for you, but make sure you're hiring them for the right reasons after you ask questions and take time to make a decision. There is nothing wrong with calling more than one lawyer before making a decision on who to hire. This is a big decision and it should be made thoughtfully.
Who Will Really Be Handling Your Case?
There are many law firms that will employ multiple lawyers to work on your case and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However, it is important for you to understand from the beginning who will truly be working on your case and in what way. A common complaint is that a client hired a particular lawyer based on that lawyer's reputation. But after that initial meeting, they almost never spoke to that lawyer again. Instead, a different lawyer from the firm handled their case, spoke to them on the phone, and appeared in court on their behalf. Every lawyer in a firm may be excellent and fully capable of handling your case, but you never want to feel like you paid for something -or someone- you didn't actually get. When you interview potential lawyers, ask them if more than one lawyer will be handling your case? If the answer is yes, ask who will usually be appearing in court for you? Who will usually be returning all your calls? And you have every right to ask to meet with the other lawyers who may be handling your case before you decide to hire a firm. It's perfectly OK if more than one lawyer helps on your case, but make sure you are clear about how it will work from the start.
It's All About The Relationship
The relationship between you and your lawyer is extremely important, especially in criminal defense cases. You will be sharing details of your life and sometimes even incriminating information with your lawyer. You might be revealing a substance abuse problem, a history of violence in your family, or other things you have never told anyone else before. It can be a scary and emotional experience for you. So, it is essential that you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose from the very start. Did you feel good talking to them at that first meeting? Did you feel reassured and informed? Or did you feel pressured, rushed or lectured to? Did it feel like they were truly listening to your concerns and taking the time with you that you need, or did it seem like they were just repeating a sales pitch? Do you feel like they will be there for you when you need them or will you only be talking to their assistant? There are probably many experienced lawyers in your area who could help you, but not every lawyer is a good fit for every client. Trust your gut when you ask yourself if the lawyer you are interviewing is the right person for you. If you feel something is off, speak to some other lawyers before you make a decision.