In a recent conversation I had with someone about our law firm, I pointed out that we are more than just a collection of Michigan DUI lawyers. I explained that we’re really a “DUI team.” Beyond the 3 lawyers in our office, both of our legal assistants are heavily involved in the handling of all our cases. In fact, we call on of them our “sobriety court guru” because she manages all the logistics to get some of our 2nd and 3rd offense DUI clients into these programs. This requires all of us to work together. It also requires each of us to have specific knowledge about how all the local courts handle DUI cases.
Sometimes, we have to transfer a 2nd or even 3rd offense DUI case from one court that doesn’t have a sobriety court program to another court that does. We’ve even transferred cases across county lines. The work required for this can be complicated. Thus, experience with how different courts do things is critically important. Being a DUI “team,” though, involves a lot more than just dealing with sobriety court issues, which are only a small component of the whole DUI universe. Indeed, that term, “DUI universe,” is both accurate and instructive here. DUI cases really can be a whole world unto themselves.
This is in no small part due to the fact that every court is unique. Each has its own way of doing things. As a group, everyone in our office knows all of these idiosyncrasies. We are familiar with the different procedures required to obtain police reports and videos from the local cities. This degree of knowledge is the direct result of working together specifically on DUI cases everyday. Even though we often have different roles in that work, my team and I ultimately all pitch in and work as a team on our DUI cases.
Think about going to the dentist: Most dental offices have a separate hygienist and dental assistant. Of course, your dentist probably can clean your teeth on his or her own, and may be able to do many (if not most) procedures unassisted.
However, it’s just better with a full staff. The hygienist cleans teeth all day, every day, and almost certainly does a better job than the dentist could by him or herself. The dental assistant knows what to do so that the dentist can properly focus all of his or her attention on the procedure at hand. Thus, you expect a “team” approach at the dentist’s office, and it’s to your direct advantage to get it.
Because our legal assistants deal with DUI cases every day, they are not just familiar the legal process, but also have the practical knowledge of how things work in various local courts and the “vibe” of each. They know which courts are tougher in DUI cases, and which tend to be more understanding that a person can make a mistake, and treat a case as such. This is precisely because we all work together, as a team, on all of our DUI cases.
Indeed, none of the lawyers in our office (including me) is above answering the phones if the staff is busy. Teamwork goes both ways. As a DUI team, it’s really a matter of all for one, and one for all.
Consider this: One consequence of this blog is that we get a lot of calls from lawyers with questions about the Michigan driver’s license restoration process. That’s something of a niche field. As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we handle about 200 driver’s license appeal matters each year. Consequently, our legal assistants know more about the license appeal process than just about any lawyer does, and more than enough to answer almost all of the questions asked by anyone who contacts us.
Many of the attorneys that call us for help are surprised to learn it was one of our legal assistants who answered their question(s). Personally, I take that as the highest form of compliment. Indeed, having such a knowledgable staff is part of the reason our firm does so well. It’s also a large part of why, in driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, we GUARANTEE to win every case we take. That level of expertise, however, is the direct result of us working together, as a team.
It’s not just that, as a DUI team, we just all pitch in and do our jobs, or even that any one of us will go above and beyond. If, for example, one of the legal assistants encounters a delay in getting the dash-cam or body-cam video from a drunk driving arrest, it becomes an issue for all of us. In fact, as I was writing this article, one of our associate attorneys came to me to talk about one of our DUI cases. He stated that we just received a written response to our formal request for dash-cam and body-cam videos. The letter indicated that the police need more time to get them to us.
As it turned out, both of our legal assistants were out that day. As my associate and I discussed this, we both agreed that, the next day, we’d have one of them contact the prosecutor’s office and ask to adjourn the case for a few weeks because we need to assess that video evidence before we know how to best proceed. The court date was set up for later in the week.
The prosecutor agreed to the adjournment, as our request for the videos was timely made. There was little point in having to go to court merely to make that same request directly to the Judge.
The Judge, for his part, understood that the delay is the result of the police department’s need for more time. To have refused our request for an adjournment would have been to deny our client a proper defense. The good Judge presiding over this case would certainly never do that, and, as noted, he didn’t.
The next day, everyone in the office knew the status of this DUI case, as we do in all of our cases. Of course, the matter had to be put in the schedule and assigned to one of us lawyers.
Our usual practice is to discuss case strategy and case status as a group – a DUI team – and that includes the legal assistants. Of course, it’s always helpful to get another person’s point of view about a case, anyway. Sometimes, though, the very act of talking about something and trying to explain it can give rise to a new and helpful idea to handle it in a way that may have not crossed one’s mind before.
Strategy, of course, isn’t just limited to how a lawyer defends the charge in court. In other words, a strategy isn’t merely about formulating a plan for trial. It can include ways to protect the client’s driver’s license (and minimize those penalties), negotiation tactics to use with the prosecutor, and how things should be presented at sentencing. No matter what, just “talking it out” is always helpful. At a minimum, it’s practice, meaning that it’s a rehearsal of sorts. Even if a better plan doesn’t emerge from discussing a case, doing so can often help formulate a “plan B.”
When an existing client calls our office with a question, he or she almost never has to wait for an answer. Even assuming the same attorney has shown up in court several times before on the person’s case, at least in our office, everyone usually knows what’s going on with it. Thus, whoever answers the phone can usually answer the person’s question(s) right then and there.
To us, that’s not just “normal,” but also the way we think things should be, and, fortunately, because we’re a DUI team, that’s the way they are.
If you are facing a criminal or DUI charge, or need to win back your driver’s license, and looking for a lawyer, be a savvy consumer and read around. Read around and pay attention to how different lawyers break down and explain these areas of the law, and how they explain their various approaches to them.
This blog is a great place to start. New, original content is added weekly. It is fully searchable, and with over 590 articles in the DUI section to-date, it has more useful information than can be found and any and everywhere else, combined.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Look for for yourself.
When you’ve done enough reading, start checking around. You can learn a lot by speaking to a live person. Make sure you give our office a ring, as well.
All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We’ll even be happy to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.
We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST) at either 248-986-9700, or 586-465-1980.