Every day at least one potential client asks me, “What can you do for me?”
It is natural enough. A person has been charged with a crime; they are concerned about their future; and they are confronted with the expensive prospect of hiring a lawyer to defend them against the charges. Before they make that expenditure they want to know what they are getting for their money. Usually when we spend money we get something tangible in return. Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer is different. What can a lawyer do for you?
A lawyer cannot ethically tell a client how the case is going to turn out based on an initial consultation. Before the lawyer can even give an opinion the lawyer has to review the evidence and communicate with the prosecutor. If the lawyer could promise a certain result the implication would be that justice is for sale. In other words, the lawyer would be suggesting that if the client just pays a certain fee than the opinions of the prosecutor, judges and alleged victims are irrelevant. Although there are many problems with the justice system in America, fortunately it is not simply for sale.
To be sure, a lawyer can say things like, “Assuming everything you say is true, based on my experience this is probably what is going to happen.” However, potential clients should be wary of statements like this. Everyone is biased towards themselves, and all the more so when the stakes are high. Few clients, whether they be guilty or not, relate the facts of the case in the same way as the alleged victim does. As a result often neither the prosecutor or the court will end up accepting the potential client’s version of events as the whole truth. Yet the worried potential client wants assurance that things are going to turn out o.k., and that his or her version of events will be accepted by either the prosecutor or the court. So most often, when a lawyer says, “assuming everything you say is true, this or that will happen,” the client hears, “if you hire me, then the result will be this or that.”
Well, if one should not hire a lawyer based on a predicted result, on what basis should the client hire a criminal defense lawyer? First, qualifications such as experience; board certification; Super Lawyer ranking; Martindale-Hubbell AV ranking; quality of legal education, etc. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, both Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen each have twenty-five years of experience practicing exclusively criminal law; are board certified; ranked Texas Super Lawyers; have the highest Martindale-Hubbell ranking of AV; and attended two of the nation’s best law schools.
Also, you should meet with your potential lawyer and base your decision on personal rapport. Ask yourself does this lawyer seem honest, ethical and competent? Is this the kind of person I want to stand up in court on my behalf and credibly represent my interests? These are the questions one should ask themselves rather than what is this person promising to do for me.