I recently talked to an old, experienced DUI attorney. I felt like he was indeed experienced, but slightly impatient, and seemed to rush through the consultation (only lasted 20-25 mins). The issue he found did sound promising, but my concern is that whether or not if he is going to put all his effort into my case once I retain him. Plus, wow do I know if he will just pass my case down to his associate once I retain him; I was told that some of old and experienced attorneys tend to do this, which I definitely do not want to see that happening. Would it be silly for me to directly ask him 'Will you put all your effort in my case? Will you pass my case down to your associate?' I really don't want a DUI on my record!!!
Well, the "pass down" question is a good question, you should get what you are paying for, not a bait and switch, which I agree is often. But sometimes, the younger associate makes some non-essential appearance, but the older attorney does all the substantive work and negotiations. But the "will you put all your effort" question is somewhat silly, even if important. Is the lawyer going really admit "nah, I'm going to phone it in until I've earned my fees and then just plead you out." It's just not realistic. And frankly, if you have any doubt he's going to apply his best efforts, maybe you hired the wrong guy in the first place.
One of the biggest pieces of successful representation of a client in a DUI is communication with the client. You should know before you retain an attorney exactly what the attorney expects to do for you and what he/she expects from you in return. While ultimately you have to trust your gut at some point, the retainer agreement should have some kind of built in statement regarding your right to terminate the representation of you if you aren't satisfied with the work in the middle of your case. Communication is key, and you should express your concerns up front to the attorney as well. While some of us are very good at reading people (it's a big part of our job with clients, prosecutors, judges, and jurors), we aren't mind readers. Your questions are fair and you have every right to ask them.
Trust is the foundation of an attorney/client relationship. If you are initially uncomfortable with an attorney for any reason, then you shouldn't hesitate to keep looking for representation. The defense attorney's role is to act as your legal counselor and advocate. The defense attorney is your advocate in court, making your case to the judge, prosecutor, and, if necessary, to a jury in order to provide you the best result given the situation. Also, the defense attorney should be able to explain how the law applies to the facts of your case so you are able to make an informed decision about whether or not you want to accept a plea bargain or to take the case to trial. If you cannot trust that your attorney will accomplish both roles, then you have hired the wrong attorney.
It is not just some of the older attorneys who do this. There are a great any attorneys who advertise heavily, and then when hired, pass off your case to someone younger and less experienced. You SHOULD get a guarantee in writing specifying exactly what is it he will do and what it is that any associate attorney will do for you. As for your 25 minute consultation, please understand that we attorneys have many, many people calling us all day requesting free consultations. 20-25 minutes is a reasonable time to assess the attorney's qualifications. Remember. A free consultation is not an assessment of your case. if ANY attorney gives you guarantees on the results of your case during an initial consultation, run like the wind. He/she is trying to get your money by providing you with a false sense of hope.
Your question and concerns are completely VALID. I have found that it's always best to listen to one's "gut" in situations like this. If you are uncomfortable with the attorney already, chances are it won't get any better. You should ask him or her directly what time will be put in the case and by who, especially if you are paying hourly. Make it a direct question. If you are feeling rushed or are uncomfortable, find another lawyer, FAST. A DUI is nothing to mess with and you need to get it right the first time when it comes to defense. Good luck
I do not practice in your area, but you need to ensure that you are comfortable with the attorney and that you are a good fit with one another. There is nothing inappropriate about asking the attorney if he will be the one handling your case as opposed to handing it off to the "second string." If you find an attorney that has an "AV" rating with Martindale.com, this should reflect that the attorney is well respected by his clients and peers, and has a reputation for being ethical. The best way to find an attorney is through a referral from someone that has already had a good experience. I hope that helps.
I know people outside the field share your concern. You have to ask the attorney questions like:
* What percentage of cases you take to trial?
* Will you handle the trial?
* How have you kept up with the changes in DUI laws and techniques?
It is key that you hire the best locally experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you that you can afford. You should obtain a free consultation as soon as possible. Good luck.
Law Offices of Mark Deniz
1010 2nd Avenue, Suite 2307, San Diego, California 92101 (858) 751-4384
Free Case Evaluation- Serving all San Diego County. www.denizdefense.com
You should always ask these questions during the initial consultation. I can say that often times the police report is what is going to determine how a case is going to proceed. Often times there are issues in the reports that an Attorney can't know about until he or she reads it. It is also true that usually the attorney is being consulted before the reports are available. In the end ask a lot of questions and if any lawyer ever makes any promises about the outcome...GET IT IN WRITING.
Have you read his reviews on sites like Avvo and Yelp? Talked to other former clients of attorneys with knowledge of the way in which he does business.
Asking directly is fine, but it may be hard to determine how much of his answer to believe. It's hard to imagine that he will say, "you're right, I wasn't planning on doing much work on your case once you paid."
Best of luck!
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