Trouble Ahead. Trouble Behind.
GUIDING YOU THROUGH
There are likely troubled waters ahead. It's my job to help put them behind you. You need a lawyer with the expertise and knowledge to help safely get you through. Hiring the right lawyer is the first and perhaps most important step in this process. Don't be rushed or pressured. There may be difficult choices to make in the future and the last thing you need is to be worried that maybe you made the wrong choice. Many of my clients have described the criminal defense process as long hours of boredom interrupted by short periods of high anxiety. It is somewhat similar to the experience of one of my passions, white water rowing. long periods of relatively easy water can be broken up by unexpected and treacherous stretches of rapids. An experienced lawyer, like a good oarsperson, can effectively help you navigate the complex currents, eddies and rapids of a criminal case. The trick is to put the slower periods to good use so that you are prepared when the you-know-what hits the fan.
DON'T JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
Before you retain me, or any other lawyer for that matter, it is important you do your due diligence. You should talk with as many attorneys as you can before settling on your choice. First, identify attorneys with the requisite experience to handle your case. Then talk personally with at least a few of them. You and your attorney are going to be working together very closely, likely over a long period of time. You are going to have to rely on that lawyers judgment and advice. You are going to have to trust in that lawyer. Of the experienced lawyers you interview, select the one you feel best suits you personally
A TEAM THEORY OF DEFENSE
The potential client needs to understand that this type of criminal defense representation is costly. During our initial meeting I will most likely be able to give you a rough idea of the financial requirements of your defense. An attorney's fees are one component of a few that may need to be factored in as you evaluate your case. Serious felony defense almost always requires more than just a defense lawyer. It requires a defense team.
Retaining me in a criminal defense case is only the first step in building your defense team. In almost all of my cases, the services of other professionals are required. One of our first jobs together are to evaluate and identify likely case needs. In almost every case the services of a licensed private investigator will be necessary. For ethical reasons lawyers cannot prudently act as their own case investigators. Private investigators locate and interview potential witnesses and assist in serving subpoenas and assembling public and private records that may be necessary to your case.
When you are charged with a crime, the government has a duty to produce certain types of information to you and your defense lawyer in advance of trial. Lawyers refer to this information as discovery. In complex cases the government may produce multiple gigabytes of discovery data. This data is often in different forms. My clients and I often employ the services of a paralegal or even a third-party discovery management firm to help organize and manage large volumes of discovery.
Many of my cases also require the service of experts. Depending of course on the case these experts can come from almost any field. I have used many types of experts including: Accident reconstructionists, accountants, computer and network analysts, explosive and firearms experts, forensic medical examiners, polygraphers, psychologists etc. These experts can be used as both case consultants and trial witnesses.
As your case develops we will periodically discuss the need to make additions or subtractions to your team. These decisions are always made after full consideration by the client of the various benefits and costs involved. It is always my goal that my client's fully understand what they are paying for and why they are paying for it.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
Some questions you might consider when deciding who to hire:
How much experience does the lawyer have with your type of case?
How much experience does the lawyer have with the court in which your case is proceeding?
How many cases does the lawyer have? do they have the time for your case?
Will the lawyer you hire be the one actually working on your case?
What legal research resources does the lawyer utilize?
What is and what is not included in the lawyer's fees?
Has the lawyer ever had a fee-dispute with a client?
How does the lawyer handle such fee disputes?
Has the lawyer ever been disciplined by a bar association?
A WORD ABOUT MY FEES
Because my practice is so focused, I negotiate individual retainer agreements with each of my clients. My retainer agreements usually take one of two forms. There is an hourly fee agreement, and a flat-fee agreement. Regardless of which type of fee agreement we decide upon, my fee agreements usually have all but the most extraordinary overhead expenses built-in. This means you will not be billed for routine case-related costs like copying, printing, long-distance and routine travel.
If you choose an hourly fee agreement, my usual hourly rate is $450.00. An agreed-upon sum of money is placed in my attorney trust account against which I bill the client on a monthly basis. The client replenishes the trust account to the agreed-upon level after each billing.
Flat-fee agreements are agreements for my services to complete a discrete task, or for representation for a discrete purpose. In the criminal defense context, flat-fee agreements are often set to match the stage at which the case is disposed. Thus, a common flat fee agreement would specify fees for stages such as: Pre-charge resolution, negotiated pre-trial resolution, resolution upon or after pre-trial motions litigation, and resolution at or after a trial. Flat fee agreements will depend on each case's unique character and are often negotiated in stages as both the client and I learn more about the nature and circumstances of the case.