The High Volume, Low Cost Criminal Attorney

Naturally, when many people are seeking a criminal defense lawyer they look for the most affordable lawyer. If they call around when shopping for a lawyer they may be surprised by the disparity in prices quoted they get from lawyers for handling their case. Beware of cheap criminal defense lawyers. Here’s why.

For example, to handle a DWI some lawyers might insist on a $5,000 retainer and $10,000 to try the case, whereas other lawyers might be willing to “get started” for as low as $750. Given that all lawyers intend to make a good living and must cover the costs of running a law office, how does a lawyer who charges the lowest fee run a successful practice?

The short answer is: “volume.” Rather than focusing on the quality of service they provide, some lawyers focus on the quantity of clients they can procure. In order to have a steady supply of new clients, some advertise on billboards, various newspapers, and send out direct solicitation letters to people who have been recently arrested. The individual whose liberty is at stake and finds his lawyer on a billboard likely is selecting the lawyer on the basis of price rather than carefully selecting a lawyer based on the quality of the lawyer’s education, skill and experience. The lawyer who is incurring the significant increase in overhead by engaging in such advertising must also charge a lower fee. In order to make this business model work the lawyer therefore must increase the number of clients exponentially. A lawyer who acquires the bulk of his clients on the basis of such mass marketing might have several hundred clients at a time.

A lawyer who has so many clients cannot possibly remember all of his clients names and faces, let alone be intimately familiar with all the facts of the case and have thoroughly researched all the potential legal issues. As a practical matter such lawyers show up each day to the courthouse with dozens of files in hand, while their numerous clients wait all morning for the lawyer to finally get to their case after handling all the other client’s cases that morning. For each case the lawyer usually gets a plea offer recommendation from the prosecutor and relays it to the client. If the client rejects the offer, the lawyer sets the case for trial after charging a trial fee, and oftentimes even transfer the case to a “trial specialist,” for a jury trial takes far too much time to be profitable. After spending all morning at the courthouse, the lawyer breaks for lunch, and spends the afternoon at the office “signing up” new clients. The cycle continues day after day, week after week.

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we refuse to practice law in such a manner. We treat every case as the most important matter in our client’s lives. Although we charge reasonable fees, we charge a fee sufficient to enable us to thoroughly investigate and research our clients’ cases. If our client elects to have a trial we will be prepared and eager to defend our client’s liberty with the utmost passion and commitment.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.