Welcome to the 7th and final part of this article about the 11 things you should do – all of which begin with the letter “R” – to find the right Michigan DUI lawyer. In the prior 6 parts, we’ve seen how you need to relax, take the time to read, and learn as much as you can so that you can recognize who, amongst all the lawyers, is right for you (and who isn’t). You also need to rate those legal skills that are important to you, and you must resolve your budget, as well. You can’t pay money you do not have, but you shouldn’t pay too much, either. It is very important to resist buying into something simply because it’s what you want to hear, and reject meaningless slogans. They may grab your attention, but they don’t provide any real information. You should always remain skeptical and evaluate everything critical. In the last section, we talked about how you must realize what actually makes any one lawyer different from the rest. Here, in this final section, we’ll talk about how and why you should rank the lawyers you’ve checked out according to what you need, and how you should reach out to those who really seem to “speak” to you.
Rank the lawyers by what you need. Often enough, we’ll find the consumer, on one side, hoping to find the right lawyer quickly and easily, and the lawyer, on the other side, trying to reel them in, essentially “shouting” the same slogans as everyone else. Then you get guys like me, who write all kinds of detailed articles that only a select audience will read, and BAM! There you have it…
Because I’m that guy writing all these explanatory articles and NOT barking out the same catchphrases as the larger herd, it’s clear that I am a better fit for those people who want to dig deeper and read: detail people. Skipping any discussion of fees for the moment, what’s clear is that I am NOT the lawyer for the super-impatient person who has little or no interest in examining how DUI cases work, or getting into any kind of analysis of the court process. And that kind of person isn’t “wrong” (although I think they may be doing themselves a disservice by not being a better consumer and doing more investigating); some people have more interest in certain things than others. Whatever characteristics or qualities they may have, YOU have to evaluate the field and find the lawyer who is the right fit for you and your case.
Occasionally, a well-meaning person will refer someone facing a DUI charge to a lawyer they know, or have used themselves. I get lots of referrals, and I’m very grateful for that, but I have to admit that I also feel a small tinge of disappointment when that happens, because it usually means the person who calls me hasn’t read much, if anything, that I’ve written and they probably haven’t checked around a lot with other lawyers, either. I’m actually most comfortable when I’m selected after a person has done some good comparison shopping. Because I know I’m an honest guy, I know that any person who is referred to and hires me will receive the best representation and treatment possible, but, I always wonder, how do they know that? How do they know that my approach is the one that’s right for them? In fact, how do I know that we’re a good fit?
If you get a referral to a lawyer from someone, you should absolutely check it out. Read the lawyer’s website and articles. If he or she comes up short on either of those things, make a note of that, but still give him or her a chance and make a call. Of course, if the person presents with very little online information and instead of answering your questions over the phone, tries to get you to come in for a consultation, I think you’re safe to write him or her off right there (I certainly would). Your goal is to see how he or she compares to the other lawyers you’re looking at, and, if I’ve made anything clear in all these installments, you should (actually, MUST) be looking at other lawyers. Even if you’ve been referred to me, I still want you to check around.
If you are the kind of person who is hell-bent on fighting everything, no matter what the cost or the ultimate effect on the outcome of your case, then I’m not your guy, and you should look for the kind of lawyer who is. If you want someone who presents as the strong, silent type who will take your money and reassure you that “everything will be alright” without explaining much, then I’m not your guy, either, and you should look for that kind of lawyer. No matter what your preferences, if you want a lawyer who will be a good fit for you, then you’ll need to check around and rank them by what they offer that meets your needs. Once you’ve done that, then you’re going to have to make some calls.
Reach out to those who actually speak to you. When all is said and done, you’ll have to contact an attorney’s office. You’re probably wondering what the hell I can say about this, right? By this point, you probably realize I can find something to say regarding just about anything. All kidding aside, though, there are some things you should know when you do reach out to a lawyer.
You can learn a lot when you call a lawyer’s office. And that takes us to my first point. Some lawyers don’t really have an office, or they may rent space from some other lawyer so they can meet people there, but don’t have any staff members to answer their phones. Since the very first day I opened my office, I’ve had a living, breathing employee (not an answering service) answer my calls. Lately, I’ve been getting swarmed with sales pitches for “live chat” services. When I looked into this, I learned that “live chat” does NOT connect someone with a live employee in the office, but instead, the service is manned by employees at some chat company, somewhere off-site (and maybe offshore). In other words, every time you see that little screen on some law firm’s website, the person you “chat” with is at a remote location, and not an employee of the law office. I would have been interested if we could have done live chat with my staff during regular business hours, but that’s not how it works, so I passed. The sales pitches claim these services are very sophisticated, but that kind of BS is exactly the stuff I hate being subjected to as a consumer and wouldn’t dream of doing to any potential client of mine.
I fundamentally believe that my staff should be able to answer questions and explain things right when a call comes in. That’s exactly how we do things, but plenty of other lawyers prefer to keep their staff out of things and would rather call a person back themselves. As a consumer, I generally hang up on voicemail during regular business hours, and I hate answering services because they try and pretend that you’ve reached the actual office of a business. However, even though it’s not the way it’s done in my office, I don’t find anything wrong with speaking to a receptionist in an office who informs me that the person I’m calling isn’t in right now, or is on another line, and then says that he or she will pass on the message and make sure I get a call back. Different strokes for different folks, I guess…
Without question, though, the thing I am MOST proud of about my office is that my staff is friendly and helpful from the moment they pick up the phone. If someone calls about a DUI in City X, my staff can tell the person that everything will be okay there, because that’s a very “lenient” court. Similarly, if a person calls with questions about when he or she will have to go to court, my staff can ask some questions right then and there and then let them know that even though they have a citation or bond receipt that advises them to show up by a certain date, or within so many days, they don’t have to do anything right now because that particular court, unlike certain others, will simply send out a notice in the future without having to be contacted first.
The point I’m driving at is that what happens when you call a lawyer- right when you call that lawyer – is important. How your call is answered is important. If the person answering it can’t even take the time to clearly annunciate “law-office,” and instead crows out something that sounds more like “laawfice,” don’t expect first rate service. If you speak with anyone, from staff to lawyer, who sounds aloof or arrogant, take the clue. Sure, someone can sound all nice at first and turn out to be a real dick later, but someone who starts out being a dick isn’t going to get nice later.
One advantage I get from posting 2 new blog articles every week is that you can find out who I am, how I speak, and what I’m really like just by reading my stuff. It takes about a minute or two on the phone with my office to realize that. When it comes to those lawyers who don’t write much, however, you’re going to have to engage in some dialogue. As I noted before, I would run the other way from anyone who won’t at least talk a little over the phone and instead insists on an office appointment (“free consultation”) to come in and discuss the case. That’s just me, of course, and plenty of lawyers do business that way, so do whatever works for you.
Even if you do go in for a “free consultation,” never forget this – any lawyer with whom you speak is basically interviewing for the job, and you’re the person doing the hiring. Lawyers at a certain level can afford to not take a case for someone who seems especially difficult, but when all is said and done, every lawyer out there, me included, is open for business.
You should never be made to feel ignorant, small or unimportant. Whether it’s a doctor, a dentist or a lawyer, the best of the best can break things down so that you understand what’s going on. I can sling legalese like a law dictionary in a hurricane, but it’s more important that I translate the technical stuff so that I can help someone understand the specifics of his or her situation in plain language. A word like “dick” can be a lot more useful in describing someone than saying “churlish, disobliging and disputatious.”
Beyond that, if a lawyer doesn’t break things down so that you understand, he or she is the real idiot. My dentist is a smart guy, and he obviously knows a hell of a lot more about dentistry than I do. If I have a problem, he doesn’t look at me and spew all kinds of clinical language my way: “The thingity-thing is decompensating the such-and-such under your so-and-so, and we’ll need to perform a two-step whatchamacallit.” Instead, he uses the appropriate combination of clinical terms and clear wording to explain things so that I know what’s up, and what’s to be done about it.
I could go on and on about this, but I’m going to pull the ace out of my sleeve here; just call around. No matter where you live, if you’re facing a DUI charge, calling around is the best thing you can do (hopefully after you’ve done some reading). If you live here, in Oakland, Macomb or Wayne County, where I concentrate my DUI practice, my most sincere hope is that you do just that, and that you include my office in those you contact. I want to be comparison shopped.
While there are lots of things to consider when looking for a lawyer, the most important is to take the time to actually consider them. Don’t rush this. Every busy lawyer has had the experience that by the time he or she was able to respond to an inquiry a few hours later, the person has gone on to hire someone else. A good lawyer doesn’t want that kind of client. I want to be chosen because of what I bring to the table, not because I get back with someone first. For my part, I encourage anyone in the market for a DUI lawyer to do his or her homework. Look around. A lot…
At this point, we have finally covered (exhausted, more like) the 11 “R’s” of finding the right Michigan DUI lawyer. Thanks for reading this. Please follow the suggestions here, because they will help you make a better decision. If you are facing a DUI charge and looking to hire a lawyer, read around, then check around. If your case is here, in the Greater-Detroit, Tri-County area, include me in your inquiries. You can reach my office Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., toll-free, at 1-855-DUI-MICH (1-855-384-6424) or 586-465-1980. We are here to help.