Written by attorney Anthony Stuart Lowenstein

10 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Attorney


Additional resources provided by the author

Choose a CREATIVE Attorney: Criminal defense is as much an art as it is a science. For standardization, prosecutors and courts try to make charges and sentences consistent and the same for all situations. But, due to the complex nature of criminal matters, no two cases are exactly alike and often there are defenses and sentencing alternatives that are better for you that a creative defense attorney can devise and, with enough persistence, get the prosecutor and court to accept. Some clients want to avoid fines; others want to keep their driver’s license; others want to avoid jail; and others who are not citizens just want to remain in the U.S. If your attorney fully understands your needs and goals, s/he can often craft a solution that reflects your most important concerns. Last Choose an Attorney you can AFFORD - LEGAL FEEs: PRICE is the last consideration on your list. Your defense is too important to skimp on the price. The outcome of your criminal case can affect your whole life and future (and finances). Having a criminal record can be very limiting and close important opportunities in your life. It can also mean high fines and serious time in jail or prison. How much is it worth to you to save spending time in jail, or keep a felony or misdemeanor off your criminal record? Criminal attorneys are highly skilled, specialized attorneys who work very hard for their clients, fighting for your rights and freedom, and are worth the expense. If you don’t have enough money, it is worth borrowing the money from family, friends, credit cards or banks. Pay your attorney in full; you do not want your attorney concerned about whether they will get paid for their efforts; you want your attorney thinking about nothing but defending you, well. Nevertheless, money is a real concern to all of us; no one budgets to buy a criminal defense. This is a most unexpected emergency expense. Be upfront with your attorney about how much you can afford. Unlike most attorneys who charge hourly, criminal lawyers usually charge flat fees. This is so because criminal attorneys have done such cases so many times, they are relatively certain how much work is involved in defending such a case. The flat fee is generally preferable to clients because clients know that they are locked in at a certain total cost and do not need to fear a future unexpectedly high lawyer’s bill. However, a flat fee may not include costs and expenses. Ask your attorney what “costs” are included and which costs are extra. SAVE MONEY! Choose an attorney with LOW OVERHEAD The one way that you can save significant money without sacrificing quality of your attorney is by choosing a good attorney who has low overhead. If your lawyer has a big, prestigious office with marble floors, fancy furniture, plenty of staff, be aware that his clients —you- are paying for it! An attorney who undertakes high overhead costs need to charge higher fees to cover those costs (and then still earn a profit). The best criminal defense lawyer in the world may work out of small, modest office, but still be the most skilled and experienced attorney dedicated to you and defending your case (but does not need to charge you a higher fee to cover overhead). CONCLUSION Ask an attorney questions about all of the above factors before making your decision to hire. Don’t worry about offending the attorney. This is all about YOU — it’s your defense and your life. You are the one who will have to live with the verdict and the consequences. You are about to pay a large amount of money for an advocate who is going to protect your rights and your freedoms. You deserve the best. Choose wisely.

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