People often ask me what to look for when hiring a lawyer to defend their DUI. Generally speaking, there are six things that a person should see in a lawyer. Look for a specialist, someone who focuses on your type of case, and someone who has experienced and is trained in this area of the law. It has been said that DUI cases are the most complex type of cases because of the science and the intricate facts that surround a DUI case. That being said, if you had to have brain surgery, you would not go to a family physician. You would seek out the best surgeon you could find. Here are the five things I think a person should look for in an attorney.
Associations: The National College of DUI Defense is an association that provides the most advanced training in defending a DUI. The best attorney’s from around the nation are members of this organization and help train other attorney’s in this specialized field. Your attorney should be an active member of this organization and it will give you a good clue that the attorney knows how to properly defend a DUI. The attorney should also be a member of his local Criminal Defense Association (i.e. Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers). The attorney should also be a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Association. The attorney should also have formal training in trial work such as the Trial Lawyers College so they have not only been trained in the knowledge but also in the presentation.
Experience: Ask questions about how long the attorney has been representing citizens accused of DUIs. Ask the attorney how many trials they have done that relate to DUI. Ask the attorney about suppression hearings they have done.
Case Load: You want to determine if the attorney is just a dump truck that takes your case, takes your attorney fee, and then walks you in and says there is nothing we can do, just plead guilty. I try to keep my case load between 30 to 50 clients. It does no service to a client if the attorney is just running around on 200 cases trying to do a volume business. Try to decipher if the attorney has the time to think about your case, or just wants your money. Sometimes you can decipher this by what they charge. If the attorney charges your $500, you can expect a $500 job. To properly defend a case, be prepared for a couple of thousand. Remember, you get what you pay for!
Practice Focus: Determine what percentage of their practice is focused on DUI. Are they a lawyer that does a run of the mill and is offering to do your bankruptcy, divorce, and personal injury case too? Look at where the attorney focuses his practice.
Accessibility: Determine whether you will be able to get a hold of your attorney. I provide my clients with all of my contact information including cell phone and email address. Most if not all clients, will receive contact back from within just a couple of hours, unless I’m in trial, then it would be the next day.
How do You feel: Finally, Determine how you feel about the attorney and if you trust the attorney. Does the attorney sound like a salesman, or is he really interested in your case. Does he ask you in-depth questions about your case and answer your questions?