San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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The Mill vs. the Real Criminal Defense Lawyer

Almost every criminal defense lawyer who is under 70 and has been practicing for more that 6 weeks, has a website. Some sites are better, and some are worse. Some sites are larger and some are simply a splash page with contact information. I was recently retained by a very interesting fellow. He is a computer programmer who works at a very high level for very significant clients. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he hired me. After all, I’m good at my job. I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and I offered this client exactly what he appeared to be looking for: Honesty, sincerity and the ability to accomplish his goals.

When my client came in to meet me, I sat with him and offered him the normal initial consultation after having had a fairly extensive conversation with him on the phone. I had also spoken with his wife by telephone prior to the meeting. As we were nearly finished I asked how he found me. He offered up Google as the search engine used and went on to volunteer some interesting facts: He knew from his review of my website that I wasn’t some marketing guy advertising all over the internet; He knew that I run a very small law firm; He knew that I was a real person with real interests and finally, that I was local to the jurisdiction.

When I am doing legal research I often come across a few very large websites owned by lawyers who are excellent marketing or employ skilled marketing professionals. The sites are often huge. The locations they service are huge. The list of lawyers they employ or associate with is huge. The owner most likely doesn’t remember or may have ever known what the inside of a courtroom looks like, but his website is remarkable. Run like hell. Don’t call them, please. There are too many really good lawyers out there for you to get roped into a mill. We used to call firms like this “dump trucks” because that’s the way they handled their clients. They would scoop them up en mass only to dump them out as soon as they could possibly get their cases resolved.

One time I was in court and I saw a lawyer I knew from law school. He was then working for a mill law firm in Glendale. He was in an arraignment court asking to be relieved from the case. He actually had the audacity to tell the judge that his firm was only retained for the arraignment on a criminal misdemeanor. That takes some balls. What this means is that the firm likely took the client’s last $500 on earth and went to court and did nothing for their client. I guess the service they really did for the client is getting off the case. As they were no longer to be his lawyer, they couldn’t make things any worse for their former client.

Historically, criminal defense and DUI law firms are very small. This is actually for ethical reasons. If three guys go out and rob a bank and the cops arrest all three of them, they are all going to want to hire lawyers. One firm normally cannot represent all three defendants as that would likely be a conflict of interest for the lawyers. The solution is to have a small firm and have a long list of friends. In the case of the bank robbers, I would represent the first one of the alleged robbers and two and three might be able to hire my friends and have conflict free representation. This is to say that each client can have a separate lawyer and benefit from the theory that three minds are better (and more ethical) than one.

So, if you are Googling for lawyers and you come across a site, or several sites that look too good to be true, that’s because they are just that. When lawyers spend too much time marketing and not enough time lawyering that’s normally not a good thing for the client.

If you are looking for a criminal or DUI defense lawyer who is good, but not too good to be true, call me:

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me at:

I look forward to meeting you. Please visit my sites for more information: or