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Selecting a Lawyer

Selecting a criminal defense lawyer is scary. You are considering hiring a criminal lawyer in the first place only because you, or someone you love, is in trouble. It is the kind of trouble that needs attention now. It needs the attention of someone who knows what needs to be done to protect you, who knows how to do it, and who will not rip you off. The problem is, you have had little or no past experience with lawyers--especially criminal defense lawyers. You don't know any criminal defense lawyers. And your need to act quickly can rush you into making a poor selection. So what do you do?

Let us first suggest some things to not do. Do not...

  • ...base your choice of a lawyer on which one has the glitziest web site, or the biggest ad in the yellow pages
  • ...base your choice on which lawyer offers the lowest (or, for that matter, the highest) price quote
  • ...hire any lawyer who “guarantees” that they can get you off
  • ...use the lawyer who helped you buy your house, or get your divorce, even if they did a great job for you
  • ...use any lawyer whom, after you've had an initial conference, you find intimidating, or with whom you feel uncomfortable
  • ...make a decision until you have spoken with more than one lawyer, to give you some basis for comparison

Well, enough, already, with the “do not's.” What should you look for? Try these on for size: Look for the lawyer who...

  • ...listens to you patiently
  • ...is able to answer basic questions concerning your situation, and possible approaches to dealing with it
  • ...does not talk down to you
  • ...speaks to you in every day English, with words you can understand
  • ...explains to you what his/her fee will be, or how the fee will be determined
  • ...instills confidence in you while, at the same time, not making promises for relief that are impossible to achieve
  • ...quotes a fair fee, one that is neither too low nor too high but, rather, one that realistically reflects the seriousness of the charge, and the work that will be required for the quality representation that you seek

Even after following all these do's and do not's, you still can never be sure that the lawyer you choose will meet your expectations, or get the result you want. The suggestions here will, however, greatly increase the likelihood of that happening.


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