Posted By Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer on Jul 6, 2012 12:05pm PDT
I got a call today, like I do every single day, from a person wanting to hire a lawyer. I tried to answer all of her questions, and she appeared to understand my responses. Before we hung up, she asked how much it would all cost.
Inevitably, this is always the last question asked. I assume the caller and potential client asks at the end because she first wants to determine whether the lawyer she has called is worth hiring. Only then is the question necessary.
Sometimes I think this ought to be the first question asked. It’s clear that a lot of people don’t actually know what a good lawyer is worth. Many of the calls I get are from people who got my name off the Internet. I am unlikely to be the only person these people call, and they are sure to get all kinds of different responses to their fee question. How are they to know if they are paying too much?
Almost any lawyer just out of law school can afford a fancy website, so it does appear to the first timer that every lawyer is the same. And if every lawyer is the same, then shouldn’t the potential client just hire the lawyer who charges the least?
Of course, most people would admit that every lawyer is not the same. A person charged with a crime is only guaranteed the best result if he hires the best possible representation. A lawyer is not a commodity, like a car or a refrigerator. But, we have reached a point as consumers, where we don’t accept a price at face value. Almost all of us will go on the Internet to compare the best prices. This seems to be the prevailing attitude for everything we buy, from cruises to haircuts. So how much more should the best lawyer cost compared to the least?
My best advise to those who are trying to determine whether they are getting a fair deal, are to compare apples to apples. In other words, look at credentials side by side. Is the lawyer they are talking to Board Certified? Does he have experience in the District Attorney’s office? How much experience? How many trials has he been involved in? How many years has he been handling charges of the type the client is facing?
Another thing you can do is use the Internet. Google the lawyer’s name and location. Find out whether there is any information out there that would allow you to put a plus or minus next to his name.
My last piece of advice is, unless you are out of town and trying to hire a lawyer for a loved one, please do not to hire someone after only one conversation on the phone! Take the time to meet the lawyer you are interviewing. Spend time with him face to face. Trust me, there is a substantial amount of value in it. Everybody has a spiel. Your gut is valuable and the only way to use it is to look someone in the eyes. Good Luck!