Over the course of my career, one recurring question people have asked me is, “What makes a good lawyer?”
If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, or if you are currently searching for an attorney, it’s in your best interest to take a few minutes and read this article.
More specifically, if you’re searching for a criminal defense attorney, it probably means that you or someone important to you is accused of a crime. Remember, life happens. People make mistakes, and there are always two sides to every story.
The single most important concept to keep in mind when answering the question, “How do I choose a lawyer?” is simply this:
Choose Someone Who Is “Dedicated” To The Given Area Of Law Where You Need An Attorney.
Always search for an attorney that is dedicated to or devoted to the particular area of law where you need an attorney.
Would you seek the medical attention of an oncologist when you really need a psychologist? At some point, you may need both, but each is responsible for a different role in securing your mental and physical well-being. The same is true for attorneys. A divorce attorney should not represent you in an attempted murder case.
Far too many of my colleagues are spread thin when they hold themselves out to be “specialists” in a variety of areas. Isn’t it difficult to believe that an attorney could successfully represent clients in a dozen areas of law?
Ask yourself, how can an attorney devote their time to defending a client facing a fifteen-year prison term while he simultaneously prepares a comprehensive property settlement agreement to be made part of a client’s divorce decree?
As attorneys, we all had to take the requisite basic courses in law school. The basic courses were contracts, criminal law/procedure, torts (negligence) and constitutional law. Of course, I am familiar with all of these areas of law. And although I really enjoyed learning Constitutional law, I would never hold myself out to the public as a First Amendment, Freedom of Speech expert.
Now, you may ask, “why would you give up the opportunity to make more money by not practicing every area of law?
The first reason that I would give up the opportunity to make more money and not take on a personal injury case is that I would be committing a disservice to my client. I cannot possibly get my client the best possible results (maximum monetary recovery) if I’m not devoted to personal injury law. When anyone asks me to take on their injury case, I politely decline and then proceed to recommend a colleague whom I respect and who is solely devoted to injury law.
The second reason that I would not take on a personal injury matter is that it is not a passion for me. I don’t want to spend countless hours of my life taking depositions, exchanging thousands of documents, responding to and serving interrogatories and so on and so on. The practice of law, like any practice, is personality driven
Those Who Love What They Do,
Are Always Exceptional At Doing What They Love.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How is their personality? Arrogant or self-confident? (there is a huge difference)
- When you meet the attorney, how does he/she treat you?
- Is your case important to them? For example, is the attorney really paying attention when you are explaining your side of the story? Or are they texting, taking calls, reading their email, etc.?
- It’s not only how they talk to you, but how do they make you feel? for example, are you comfortable around that attorney? Trust your gut!
- What vibe do they give off? Are they genuine or fake?
- Can you tell the difference between the salesman and the true advocate? (here’s a tip: in spotting the salesman, look for the pasted “fake smile.” It’s a huge red flag.)
- Is the attorney making guarantees or making assurances about the outcome of your case? If so, run in the opposite direction. Do not hire that attorney! It is unethical and just plain stupid to guarantee a given result. Note: I’ve seen so many crazy and unpredictable things in my career that I make it a point to explain to clients that anything can happen.
- Is the attorney setting realistic expectations? If there is video evidence of you (the defendant) smashing your ex-girlfriend’s car windows with a baseball bat, then there is a strong likelihood that you will be found guilty of destruction to property when the case goes to trial.
I am serious about defending people accused of a crime or, more common, multiple crimes. When an individual’s freedom is at stake, I take the responsibility of representing that individual very seriously. Aside from our health, our freedom is most sacred.
The question that logically follows is, “what good is it to be healthy if you’re locked up?” Let’s agree that both our health and our freedom are priceless.
In sum, here are the main bullet points to remember when asking yourself:
“how do I choose the right attorney”?
The Lawyer Should Be Devoted To The Area Of Law Where You Need Representation.
The Lawyer Should Genuinely Advocate For You.
You Must Trust Your Gut!