Anyone looking to hire a lawyer for a criminal or DUI case, a driver’s license restoration appeal (or really for any kind of case) should always consider the question, “why should I hire you?” Even if a person doesn’t directly ask that of some lawyer or law firm, he or she should have clear and direct answers to it. In this article, I want to go over the 3 most important questions a person should keep in mind as he or she considers which lawyer to hire.
The simple truth is that nobody needs a criminal or DUI lawyer because things are going particularly well. In addition, it can be a bit intimidating to call a lawyer. Personally, I HATE having to call people who are in any “hard sell” profession, like insurance or real-estate agents, or anyone who offers “free information” or a “no obligation” consultation that I know will result in a sales pitch. I fear that once any of these “sharks” get my phone number, they’ll hound me forever. Unfortunately some lawyers can be like that, too.
This reticence to call an attorney is likely the same for people who are looking to win back their driver’s license, as well. The whole idea of calling a law office can be stressful, not only because of the dreaded potential “hard sell,” waiting on the other end of the line, but also because the caller has no idea how nice (or not) the person answering the phone might be. This is why looking around online is so great; you have a chance to get some information without being hounded, intimidated, or pressured.
Let’s be brutally honest here: some lawyers can be arrogant dicks. Whatever else, my team and I are NOT.
In addition, it is also true that, for every “cut rate” attorney out there who handles criminal, OWI and/or driver’s license restorations cases, so hungry for business that they’ll work for peanuts, you’ll find 3 more who charge premium fees for what are, at best, mediocre services.
While you will never get what you don’t pay for in terms of the quality of legal services, it’s also true that you can very easily wind up being charged top shelf fees for nothing better than average results.
This is why a person should keep, at the forefront of his or her mind, that single question: “Why should I hire you?”
As we’ll see, that single question really breaks down into 3 “sub-questions.” Let’s go over a few preliminary things before we get to them.
Although it’s rather obvious, it seems that lawyers, more than anyone else, fail to recognize the that the reason a person goes online or picks up the phone to call a lawyer in the first place is because he or she is looking for answers and wants some information.
Nobody wants to talk to some lawyer and get sucked into some gimmicky sales pitch or otherwise be nagged for a retainer when they’re just “looking around.’ This is why I hate calling people in certain professions, because the whole “consultation” thing is often just an excuse to try and close a sale.
Not with my office, though.
It may seem ironic, but experience has taught us that the best way to get clients is to put up a ton of information online, like I do through this blog, and let people explore it themselves, on their own time, without being pestered. Then, we encourage them to look elsewhere, and wait for them to come back.
I know that sometimes, if I’m out with my wife, I will even hesitate to go into the mens department at certain stores because I don’t want to be pestered by some annoying salesperson; I usually just want to look around and explore on my own, at least at first.
High pressure tactics suck, pure and simple.
When somebody calls our office, we assume that they have questions and want information. I’ll repeat here what we tell everyone who contacts us; be a good consumer and call around.
Most people looking to buy a new refrigerator or stove will do some research and comparison shopping; why would anyone do less when looking for a lawyer?
Moreover, chances are that when a person does check around and compare just about any kind of service providers, be they builders, dentists, doctors, painters, or lawyers, he or she will almost certainly NOT go with anyone who tried the “hard sell.”
Good consumers learn to find out who provides quality services, charges accordingly, and isn’t just some slick or persistent salesperson.
This brings us to the first question I think a potential client have in mind as they look for an attorney: In what specific areas of the law does a particular lawyer or law firm concentrate?
I’ve seen storefront law offices that quite literally market themselves as handling just about every kind of legal matter. That may be fine for a minor traffic ticket or a simple power of attorney, but not for more complicated matters, like indecent exposure, DUI charges, or driver’s license restoration cases.
I’m not just saying that just because we concentrate in DUI, driver’s license restoration and a few other specific areas of criminal law; this applies to things like divorce and personal injury matters, as well, even though our firm doesn’t handle them.
There’s an old saying that identifies certain people as being “a Jack of all trades, but master of none.” There are 3 lawyers in our office, and we concentrate in DUI, driver’s license restoration and certain other distinct criminal matters, like embezzlement, indecent exposure, and driving/motor vehicle offenses. We don’t handle murder cases, rape charges, divorces, wills or trusts, or anything like that.
Because of our special focus, even when I have any kind of civil or “lawsuit” matter, I use an outside attorney who concentrates in that field.
For example, my team and/or I could certainly “do” something like a collections case (and it wouldn’t cost me legal fees), but the law firm we use for such matters works on them all day, every day, and, as a result, they know way more than we ever will about that field.
I point this out because often, when we speak with someone who repeats something they heard from another lawyer that’s not legally correct, it’s almost always some lawyer whose practice does not focus on the specific kind of issue they have. We see this all the time in driver’s license restoration cases.
Often, we’ll have to correct misinformation obtained from a lawyer who claims to “do” license appeals. For example, it’s not that uncommon for callers to say they were told that you have to be in AA to win your license back (you DON’T!), or that you can move ahead with a license appeal case even while you’re still on probation (you CAN’T!).
The simple fix is to confine your search to lawyers and law firms whose practice concentrates in the kind of case you have. Larger firms sometimes have lawyers who concentrate in very specific areas of the same general field; for example, among those who handle criminal matters, there might be a few attorneys who work on white-collar criminal cases, and a few others who concentrate in sex offenses.
This goes beyond just avoiding a practice that’s too general, or tries to be all things to all people. Although it’s no doubt easier said than done, a person should look for a lawyer or law firm that really concentrates their practice in a particular field, or a few, limited fields, meaning the they handle certain kinds of cases all the time, rather that those who just claim to “do” something.
We’ll stop here, and come back, in part 2, to look at the second and third questions.