That’s right, I said don’t hire a lawyer you find on the internet. Why, you ask? There is an old saying: “Don’t believe everything you hear”, or in this case, everything you read. Lawyers hire marketing professionals to build their websites, write articles and optimize the sites so that the sites can be “found” by search engines. Reviews can be faked and put up on websites to promote unscrupulous attorneys. Upon calling the lawyer’s offices, sales representatives often field calls in an attempt to “close” leads as soon as possible and often without the client either meeting the lawyer or coming into the office.
So how should I find a lawyer? Referrals. Ask people you know if they have ever used a lawyer. Ask your family, friends, other lawyers, etc. if they know anyone who could help you. Please make sure and ask a few questions first. Make sure the client was happy with the lawyer’s work. Make sure the lawyer practices in the appropriate field, i.e. criminal law or DUI defense. And, make sure the lawyer in question is familiar with the jurisidiction – the court where the case is filed.
How do I figure out if this is the right guy (or girl) for the job? Once you get the referral, meet the referral. Meet them in person in their office. Remember, if the lawyer does not have time to meet with you before you hire him, he will definitely not have time for you after you hire him. Ask the lawyer questions about your case, your needs, your court, your set of facts. Ask how money cases of this type the lawyer has handled in the last year, ten years, etc. Ask if the lawyer practices any other types of law. Ask how much of his practice is dedicated to criminal defense and DUI law? And, of course, make sure that the lawyer you are speaking with is the lawyer that will be actually handling the case.
Talk about legal fees. How does the lawyer charge for his time? Is it hourly or a flat fee? Does the fee quoted cover the entire case or just a certain part of the case? If the fee doesn’t cover the entire case, then what happens? Frequently lawyers will quote a low up-front fee in a felony case. The client may not be aware that the fee will only cover through the preliminary hearing and not for the entire case. Remember if the fee sounds too good to be true, it might be. I recently heard a lawyer ask a judge to let him out of a case because he said he was only hired “through the arraignment” stage of a misdemeanor case. Without mentioning any names, this firm out of Glendale, California is a perfect example of what to avoid.
Finally, you may actually have to trust your gut. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes you get that little feeling in the bottom of your stomach or on the back of your neck telling you something is wrong — or right. Trust your feelings and only hire a lawyer if you feel comfortable with that person. And, out of an abundance of caution, bring a friend or family member with you when you meet the lawyer. I know this may not be easy, but it may be worth it to get a second opinion from someone you trust. After all, hiring the right lawyer is a very serious decision.
If you have questions about hiring a criminal defense or DUI defense attorney, or if you want a free case evaluation, call me, Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to meeting you. Please visit my sites for more information: www.4criminaldefense.com or www.westlakecriminaldefense.com