Deciding on which lawyer you want to hire to represent you in court in a major decision that can have a drastic impact on your case. Individuals must consider a variety of factors, including price point, and each lawyer’s reputation and experience. Often times, people jump to hire an attorney that was recommended to them by a family or friend, not taking the time to do their own research and find an attorney that best suits their individual needs. Below, a Manassas criminal lawyer discusses the differences between working with a private attorney versus a public defender, and some very important considerations that should factor into hiring an attorney. To learn more, call and schedule a consultation today.
When it comes to criminal defense, you get what you pay for. A public defender, while in many cases competent, likely has a large number of cases that he may be juggling at once because of high demand. In many cases, public defenders will speak to their clients for the very first time on the day of the trial.
A private attorney, on the other hand, can afford to give his client a much higher level of attention. In most cases, a private attorney will also give his clients a higher level of experience, knowledge, and resources than they are likely to find from a public defender. A private attorney will focus on his client and his client alone, resulting in the kind of preparation for a case that a public defender simply does not have time for.
There are a number of important aspects to consider when choosing an attorney. Probably the most important is experience. There is simply no substitute for experience. It is critically important to find out how long a lawyer has been in practice in general, how long he has been in practice in that particular area, and the kinds of cases that he has handled during that period of time. When you are facing a serious misdemeanor or felony in Virginia, and in Manassas in particular, you do not want to be assisted by someone who is using your case to learn as they go or has little experience.
In addition, it is important to know what others’ experience with and opinions about a particular lawyer are. Conducting an Internet search to discover what past clients, as well as other attorneys, have said about a specific attorney will lead to valuable information in making informed decisions.
Finally, it is always a good idea to check with the Virginia State Bar to determine whether the attorney that you are considering hiring has ever been disciplined for ethical reasons. There are many attorneys in practice that have been professionally reprimanded, some on more than one occasion, for conduct in defending cases or conduct relating to their clients.
The most important factors are the experience of that attorney with the particular kind of charge they are asked to defend; whether he has handled a volume of similar cases in the jurisdiction the charge arose; and the success the attorney had in those cases.
The reputation of the attorney among other lawyers in the community is especially important. Web sites such as www.avvo.com allow attorneys to write comments and reviews about other attorneys. Gathering such invaluable information will result in the best advocate hired for your needs.
People make a number of mistakes when they look for an attorney. First, people are not thorough enough in their research of choosing the best attorney for their case. Just as people test drive different kinds of cars when they are looking to buy car, they should likewise speak with several different attorneys before making a decision. People should also look at any resource available. Most of it can be found online to determine the experience of the attorney, the reputation of the attorney, and the reviews of the attorney. It is important to not choose the first person that you see in the phone book.
Another mistake that people make when looking for an attorney is relying solely on recommendations of friends or relatives. While input of family members and friends can be important, I have had the experience time and time again of a client coming to me and saying, “I have already hired a lawyer that is recommended to me by my friend but I am unhappy with them.” This is part and parcel to not doing a thorough enough investigation of who your lawyer ought to be.
The final mistake is bargain hunting for legal services. While it is important to do your research and compare to get the best value, it is also true that you get what you pay for. If someone is charging something far below his peers, it’s almost always because they are inexperienced or have a poor reputation.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.