The 10 Commandments of Hiring a Defense Attorney in Michigan
If you face felony or misdemeanor charges in Michigan, hiring a criminal defense attorney can be stressful and scary. Because you do not want to look back in hindsight and wish you made a better choice, you should know how to make an informed decision.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney might be one of the most important decisions you ever make.
A criminal conviction has both direct and indirect consequences. In addition to jail and probation, a criminal record can result in a damaged reputation, lost employment opportunities, immigration issues, loss of civil rights (such as firearm rights), difficulties with custody and parenting time, loss of a professional license, damaged credit, and much more. When hiring a criminal defense attorney, it is best to know what to look for when making the best choice in a lawyer to protect and defend you.
1) Hire an attorney who only does criminal defense.
Never hire an attorney who is a “general practice” attorney or one who also takes business, probate, or personal injury cases, for instance. You want a brain surgeon to do your brain surgery, not a general practice doctor. A “jack-of-all-trades” lawyer is likely one who is not an expert at anything.
2) Research the attorney online.
You can begin by simply Googling the lawyer’s name. Next, go to AVVO and see what can be found about them there. Read feedback from former clients to determine if the lawyer is a good fit for you.
3) Check with the State Bar of Michigan to see what information they have about the attorney.
If the State Bar has disciplined a lawyer, a group of lawyers has determined that the attorney acted unethically. Although a disciplinary action doesn’t always mean you should avoid a lawyer, it is undoubtedly a red flag that should make you cautious.
4) Visit the attorney’s website.
See what the attorney has to say. Do you like what you see? Does it seem informative? If the website shows under “areas of practice” that the attorney handles cases other than criminal matters, that is a warning sign that the lawyer is not a specialist. A disorganized, rambling, and unhelpful website probably reflects the lawyer who maintains it. On the other hand, a well-crafted, helpful, and polished site likely will reflect the law firm and its attorneys.
5) Determine the accessibility of the attorney.
Are they willing to take your calls, and do they promptly call you back when they are legitimately not available, and you leave them a message? Are they willing to meet with you if you genuinely have an issue to discuss that concerns you? If not, have they explained why a meeting is unnecessary and answered your questions? A good lawyer will understand that a person charged with a felony or misdemeanor will be concerned and anxious. The lawyer should not be an additional source of anxiety because they fail to return calls, answer questions, or take the time to put your mind at ease.
6) Hire an attorney who utilizes a written fee agreement stating what services you can expect to receive in return for your money.
There is never a legitimate reason for an attorney not being willing to have a contract of employment that explicitly explains the attorney’s legal fees. You do not want to be in a situation where you’ve spent a small fortune on a lawyer, and then they keep coming back for more. A written contract is preferable because it will specify the lawyer and client’s expectations. A great lawyer will not come cheap but should offer fair and affordable legal fees. The old maxim, “you get what you pay for,” applies to lawyers. A good, respected, and successful lawyer will charge a fee that reflects their achievements and reputation in the legal community.
7) Never hire an attorney who insists on being paid only in cash.
A lawyer should never insist on cash payments or checks payable to “cash” or the lawyer’s name. If a lawyer is willing to violate the law, you cannot trust them to be ethical in your representation. Judges and prosecutors know which lawyers are not to be trusted and, on the other hand, which ones have established credibility and integrity. If you want a judge to seriously consider your lawyer’s arguments for dismissal or a charge reduction, you will want a lawyer who is respected and considered a formidable adversary by the prosecutors.
8) Hire an attorney who genuinely cares about what you have to say and sincerely listens to you.
You want to have a lawyer that cares about you. Having an attorney who cares about their clients means much more than someone who cares about money or how quickly they resolve cases. Attorneys are in business and have to earn a living and pay their bills. That is understood; however, they must also profoundly care about clients and be motivated to do whatever is necessary to get their clients the best possible outcome without regard to any personal benefit to the lawyer.
9) Hire a law firm, not a lawyer.
Why hire one lawyer when you can get a team of lawyers working for you and collaborating to provide you with the best possible defense? You will want an attorney who takes the lead in your case. Still, you want that lawyer to have a team behind them to offer you support, coordinate a robust defense, brainstorm for critical issues, and use their combined reputations to put forth the most vigorous defense possible. A solo practitioner cannot mount the same defense as several experienced, tenacious lawyers working in unison.
10) Trust your gut.
In the final analysis, you will know if you are talking to the right lawyer for you. Only you know what lawyer makes you feel confident and comfortable.
Michigan’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm
If someone has accused you or a loved one of committing a felony or misdemeanor criminal offense, you will want to have the most powerful, persuasive advocate on your side. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience successfully defending clients and an unparalleled track record of success in court. We have a team of lawyers who work together on every case to ensure our clients get the best defense possible. When it seems like all hope is lost, we will find a way to help you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.