Every year, thousands of people face criminal charges and must make what is, perhaps, the most important decision of their life – choosing the best lawyer to protect them against the government and its vast resources. Unfortunately, citizens who are uninformed about the legal system and the inner workings of law enforcement make hasty decisions that lead to poor results. It is important to speak to different lawyers before deciding on one. The choice of a lawyer is the most critical decision that one can make when facing criminal charges. Here are five key considerations when looking for a lawyer:
- Track Record - Choosing a lawyer with experience and proven results is the most important factor when deciding on a lawyer. Many people in need of legal representation are tempted to take the first attorney that they reach because they are so frightened. Be sure to research the best criminal defense attorneys in the area and compare.
- Individualized Attention – It is important to know whether the person you choose will actually be handling your case at all stages of the proceedings. Often, younger associates are assigned to cases after the more experienced attorney has been retained and the client is left wondering who is in charge. Make sure the attorney chosen is the one working on the case on a daily basis.
- Expertise – There are significant differences when practicing in state versus in federal court. If a criminal case is in federal court, it is essential to have a lawyer who practices there regularly. Federal law is extremely complicated and vastly different from state court practices. There is also a major difference between trial work and appeal work, and it is important to choose a lawyer based on their expertise.
- Cost – Many people will often choose a lawyer based on the legal fees quoted. It is important to consider that valuable legal work takes time for research, preparation, etc. Lawyers that quote the lowest fees are usually not willing to devote the kind of time that is necessary to get decent results and can come to court unprepared. On the other hand, large firms may assign entire teams to cases, resulting in very significant fees.
- Compatibility – Finally, it is essential that there be a feeling of compatibility. A bad attorney-client fit can lead to a poor exchange of information and low trust levels, resulting in less effective representation. A client should feel that they are in good hands, safe and protected by a professional that will do everything in their power to fight for their client’s rights. When a client chooses an attorney with similar attitudes, it creates a synergy that should result in a positive outcome for both the client and attorney.