The selection of the right attorney is very important if you are a parent or care provider charged with neglect or abuse in a case that hinges on medical facts. Here is a guide to that selection process.
Look for an Attorney who Focuses on your Problem
In some states, like Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to call themselves specialists. This is because some states ethical rules do not recognize specialties. Yet child abuse defense in cases involving medical issues can be extremely difficult to litigate and is best done by a trial attorney with a very specific set of skills and experience. With the creation of the subspecialty of child abuse pediatrician, it is highly likely that you will be facing medical specialists in court. You don't want to be defended by an attorney without any knowledge and experience with medical litigation. Therefore, you are looking for a child abuse defense attorney who knows how to handle complex medical arguments in court. Read the attorneys AVVO profile information. Visit his/her web sites and read client reviews. Look at things like speaking engagements and consider the materials that the attorney talks about on the firm web site.
Do Your Homework
There is so much information on the Internet today that there is no excuse for not checking out the attorneys you are considering hiring. When you have a narrowed the list of attorneys, use your favorite search engine and search them by name. Find out what other people have said about this attorney. Press coverage can be an important indicator of the experience of an attorney. This at least tells you what types of work the attorney has done. Keep in mind that you have to filter information from the Internet somewhat because really good attorneys may be controversial. They also may have worked for some really controversial clients. Attorneys are hired to defend people accused of bad things and are often judged in the media harshly for doing so. Consider bad client ratings, but try to read between the lines. Disgruntled clients have attacked many attorneys in public forums. It is common to blame attorneys for bad results that have more to do with the actions of a client than the skill of the trial lawyer. Beware of anonymous posts. Also, consider the fact that attorneys are not likely to defend themselves on the Internet because of the attorney client privilege. A single negative post does not really tell you much, but several from different sources may be a reason to exercise caution.
Interview Your Top Selections
Hiring an attorney is really like hiring any other professional. If you are not familiar with the profession, you may not feel like you know what questions to ask. You may also not feel like you know how to choose the right one. Here are some common questions that you may consider asking the attorney: How many times have you cross-examined a medical doctor in court? How familiar are you with the particular form of abuse I am being accused of? Have you ever won a trial? Have you ever done a jury trial? How will you prepare my case for trial? Do you have access to qualified medical doctors who will work with the defense? When conducting the interview, here are some questions that I would be asking myself: Does this attorney seem to have a good grasp on the subject matter? Does the attorney inspire confidence? Is the attorney evasive or condescending? Does this seem like someone who will work with me? Is this someone I can work with? Can I afford this attorney? The choice of attorney is really a pairing of team members. The attorney and client need to be a good fit and must be able to work together. Hiring a good attorney who you don't like or don't have confidence in does not really make sense.
Carefully Consider Your Budget
Litigation can be expensive. In my experience, many clients facing child neglect and abuse charges in court cannot afford the representation that they need. Instead they reach out to family, friends and support circles for help. It may not be easy to predict what your defense will cost in advance. However, your attorney should be able to offer some guidance on the subject. What you don't want to do is to get half way through a case and discover that your attorney needs to be paid and you are out of money. A good attorney will be willing to discuss finances candidly with you. Make sure you have an adequate financial plan in place. Most attorneys will help you figure out what to expect. Keep in mind that you may need to spend money on more than just a good attorney. You may need to pay doctors to review your case and form opinions. You may need to pay for records. In some instances, you may need other types of experts such as confession experts or biomechanical engineers. The strain on the budget can be enormous, especially for a young family or a working parent.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information about defending against a child abuse or neglect allegation, I recommend you visit the web site of the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center. I have included a link below.
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