Top 10 Factors To Choose Your Criminal Defense Attorney
A criminal defense attorney must be intelligent and expert in the subtleties of criminal law.
There are many law schools in this country. Some enjoy national reputations; others are known only in a particular locality. The law schools with a national reputation tend to be more selective than local or regional law schools. If you want an attorney who is intellectually powerful, consider choosing an attorney who graduated from one of the nation’s leading law schools.
An effective criminal defense attorney will devote all or most of his or her law practice to criminal cases.
Attorneys in this country are not licensed by specialty but the best attorneys have found it beneficial to practice in a particular area of the law. Some attorneys focus on criminal defense, others on family law, business law, personal injury law, or corporate law. Your best defender will have a focus on criminal defense as a specialty.
A truly excellent criminal defense attorney associates with other criminal defense attorneys.
If you want a truly excellent criminal defense attorney, you should select an attorney who has trained with the best criminal defense attorneys who practice in our country. The National Criminal Defense College selects a group of highly qualified attorneys each year for advanced training in the area of criminal defense. It would be to your advantage to hire an attorney who has trained at the National Criminal Defense College. You should also make sure your criminal defense attorney is a member of the National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, as well as comparable organizations on the State and Local level.
Pay attention to peer and client reviews.
The highest caliber attorneys in this country receive the highest ratings of their peers, through the rating systems maintained by Martindale-Hubbell, SuperLawyers and others. You might also examine the peer and client reviews published at www.Avvo.com.
Be wary of false promises and puffery.
Some attorneys will present you with salesmanship and puffery. Be wary of any attorney who promises more than the attorney can be certain of delivering.
Accessibility, honesty, and integrity are critical.
Make sure your attorney is available to you when needed. Does the attorney hide behind staff and answering services, to isolate himself or herself from clients? Does the attorney have a disciplinary record with the Bar licensing authorities? Does the attorney have a solid reputation in the legal community? Ask around. Make sure your choice of defense counsel is a sound one.
When selecting anything, but especially an attorney, you frequently get what you pay for.
In general, the more experienced and successful an attorney is within a specific area of practice, the higher the attorney’s fees will be. Attorneys who are just starting out and looking to gain experience tend to charge the lowest fees; highly respected and successful attorneys usually charge much more than rookies. Do not hire an attorney based on cost alone; you may regret your decision in the end.
Truly excellent attorneys have a diverse range of experiences and develop a defense based on your specific case.
Be cautious if an attorney has a one-size-fits-all philosophy toward defending clients or who comes up with a solution to your problem before careful examination and consideration. A truly excellent criminal defense attorney is one who has been exposed to appellate and trial level criminal practice, and who practices in both the State and Federal criminal justice systems. If you choose an attorney who has a broad range of professional experiences, it is more likely that your attorney will have the flexibility and maturity to come up with a top-notch defense strategy for you.
Make sure your attorney is a good listener and truly cares about clients.
Criminal defense practice requires attorneys to have people skills. Like with doctors, some don’t. Your attorney should relate well to you and to all kinds of people, including witnesses, police and probation officers, medical experts, prosecutors and judges. Does the attorney give you the sense that s/he will not back down from challenge or obstacles?
Make sure your attorney speaks candidly and openly with you about expectations and cost.
At the initial consultation, the attorney should discuss what YOUR goals and expectations are and discuss the costs for representation. Do not be bashful about asking the attorney to break down the costs for you. The attorney should be open and straight forward about his or her billing practices.