You must review several lawyers. Look at their AVVO ranking, check their profile at www.calbar.org, read their website, and then go to their offices for consultations. When you've done that ten times, puck the one you like best.
Call a criminal law professor at Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley. Ask them for 3 names.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
Call attorneys and meet with them. Don't take "referrals" from other lawyers, as they get paid for passing on their friends names if you hire their friend (which is totally legal, but shows a bias to why they would refer you)
This is a good question that may also help others. Finding the right criminal defense attorney is always challenging, and when facing the most serious charges, the stakes are obviously high. One good place to start is with reputable organizations and associations of criminal defense professionals. One of the most reputable is the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and their website includes a searchable directory by state and city (link below). Membership in the organization (or any organization) certainly does not guarantee excellence, but does provide a starting point, and many of the best defense attorneys are members of such groups. Most defense attorneys also form state associations. After getting an initial list, begin reviewing credentials on the attorneys' websites, and meeting in person for consultations to gauge the attorneys' experience with specific types of cases. If you know and trust excellent local lawyers in other fields, or have trusted colleagues in the local criminal justice system, they may well be able to recommend attorneys with a good reputation. These are some places to start assembling a team with the best chance at a successful outcome.
The author provides answers on this site based on hypothetical questions and fact patterns. The answers provided are for general educational and informational purposes only, and they do not constitute legal advice, which would require a personal consultation and representation agreement. Questions and answers on this site do not create an attorney-client relationship, and the communications are not privileged. Any citizen with a legal issue should consult personally with an attorney and should rely only on legal advice provided in a formal attorney-client relationship.
The best way to handle a murder trial is through a team. You want to meet the team. Many attorneys will try the case themselves without a team, but that can have disastrous results. You may wish to consider retaining an attorney to find the best attorney for your friend's needs since some teams are better at certain types of murders. I wish you the best.
The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.
There is a small group of defense lawyers that handle most of the homicides in SF. However, that said, hiring one or two of them does not guarantee a good result. Most of this group considers it a win if they avoid the death penalty even though the client gets life w/o parole. I would not ask a Berkeley professor as he is unlikely to low much about this group. Ask around and you will find out who they are. Do NOT tell them money is no object; negotiate a fair and reasonable price.
It is interesting how many people responded to this question. Apparently the phrase "Money is no object" attracts. I cannot advise how one's money should be spent, but there are a number of qualified attorneys who are available to assist.
Look for an attorney that knows their way around the courthouse your trial will be in. See what their win record is and if they did lose, how hard did they fight for the client and how bad were the facts. Sometimes website ratings of attorney's can be misleading, as an attorney can pay for the ranking even though the client reviews are horrible. How well does the attorney work with others, Is the attorney burnt out!! Does the attorney even listen to what you have to say and do they return your phone calls with answers and not just "I don't know" or "I'll have to research that". Things to consider.
Why don't you just do what Simpson did: hire Robert Shapiro (who apparently never tried a murder case) to essentially take all your assets and dole them out to real trial attorneys like Scheck, Cochran, Bailey. At least this is how it's been reported in the media:
Apparently Shapiro tried to arrange a plea deal without his client or other co-counsel's knowledge: http://m.nydailynews.com/archives/news/bailey-shapiro-sought-plea-deal-article-1.702740
I have no clue if any of the above media stories are accurate but it's not clear OJ necessarily assembled the best team possible if there in fact was so much disagreement among the team. Most people think the most important decision in the outcome was not the selection of the dream team but DA Garcetti's decision to file the case downtown vs Santa Monica, although there apparently dispute about whether this is true: http://m.nydailynews.com/archives/news/bailey-shapiro-sought-plea-deal-article-1.702740
I agree with Mr. Kaman, don't tell the attorney you're interviewing, you have unlimited funds, in fact you are well advised to call Mr. Kaman regarding this case.