A bit of advice for your consideration as you decide whether to hire an attorney or simply accept representation of the appointed lawyer. The bottom line is this: this is your life. You do not get second chances. You should not let a book or guide (this one included) or general talk sway you too much one way or the other on such an important decision as hiring an attorney. Instead you should diligently ask around and do your own research on prospective lawyers. Have your family and friends use the Internet or past court files to review the qualifications and experience of the criminal lawyers in your area that you are interested in hiring. Request a meeting with a prospective lawyer. And during that meeting, ask detailed questions about who he is and who his law firm is. For example:
1. Have your family and friends visit a prospective lawyer's office. Is the lawyer's office impressive?
2. Does the lawyer have a litigation staff?
3. Does the lawyer have other lawyers working with him or for him?
4. Does the lawyer take every single case that walks in his door or is the lawyer selective?
5. What experience does the lawyer have in criminal court?
6. Does the lawyer exclusively handle criminal cases?
7. Has the lawyer won criminal cases?
8. Has the lawyer handled your type of case?
9. Has the lawyer won your type of case?
10. Does the lawyer have criminal trial experience?
11. Was the lawyer first chair or second chair in those criminal trials?
12. Is the lawyer too young and thus inexperienced?
13. Is the lawyer too old and thus cynical and jaded?
14. Was the lawyer nice to you? Was the lawyer nice to your family or friends?
15. Did it seem as if all the lawyer cared about was money?
16. Did the lawyer seem invested in you as a person and not just as a new client?
These questions - and more importantly the answers to these questions - matter because an overworked criminal lawyer will not have time to visit you if you are in custody and work on your case and an inexperienced criminal lawyer will not have the knowledge necessary to obtain the result you are looking to achieve. A lawyer that may be the perfect fit for one person may not be the perfect fit for someone else. In a way the attorney-client relationship is a lot like a marriage so choose wisely. Similar to a failed marriage, if an attorney-client relationship ends in a divorce you will be out a lot of money and short on time to find a replacement. That being said we want to be your lawyer. We encourage you to call us and interview us. If you are out of custody we will meet you in our office. If you are in custody we will come to you. When we do meet, please challenge us with tough questions. Please request information about our qualifications and our experience in criminal court. We actually litigate cases not just plea-bargain them. Our experience and past results play a role in our success. We have won jury trials. We have won motions to suppress. We have won motions to dismiss. We have won appeals. We have won post-conviction motions. The bottom line is that we have stared down very long odds and beat them. We cannot guarantee you a result (and any lawyer that does is lying) but we will wake each and every day with one goal in mind - succeeding in your case. We believe we have the experience, the drive and the compassion needed to help you through this tough time in your life. We take this job very seriously. This is about more than money for us. This is our reputation. This is your life. We become a team. And we don't like to lose.