Which Is Better: A Criminal Defense Law Firm Or A Criminal Defense Lawyer?
I am often asked, when meeting with a potential new client regarding criminal charges they are facing, whether they should be focusing on hiring a criminal defense law firm versus the criminal defense lawyer.
In sum, and as discussed below, the client’s focus should always be on the criminal defense lawyer who will actually be taking the client’s case to trial.
First, let’s start with the basics. Each and every criminal defense lawyer is also part of a law firm. For example, whether the lawyer is part of a one person, two person, or thousand person law firm, he or she is technically always part of a law firm that is registered with a State or States and is supervised by one or more professional regulation entities that provide attorney oversight and disciplinary action.
So, the real question for the client is: can my criminal defense lawyer be part of a one or two person firm, or do I need to be represented by a larger sized, small, medium, or large law firm?
The client should always keep in mind that, even if he or hires a larger law firm, there will likely only be a handful (or less) of lawyers in that larger law firm that actually practice criminal law. In other words, a 500 person law firm, may have a “criminal law group,” with a small number of lawyers. In addition, the lawyers within that group may not actually regularly try criminal cases in front of Judges and Juries.
Even if they do, the question for the client will still be: which of these lawyers from within the criminal practice of this law firm will be the one(s) who actually take my case to trial.
At trial, the jury certainly will not know, nor will they care about, which law firm is representing the defendant/client. The jury’s focus, of course, will be on the trial lawyer who is trying the case in front of them.
The long and short of it is the client then must have a strong comfort level with the
particular lawyer who will actually take their case to trial. No matter how many lawyers work for the law firm, the client must know, at the time they hire their lawyer, who will take their case to trial.
From the client’s perspective, once the lawyer or law firm commits to identifying the lawyer that will actually take the case to trial, then the client must inquire into the following crucial issues: 1) how many cases has this particular lawyer taken to trial on behalf of Defendants (not as a former prosecutor) in criminal cases; 2) what results has this particular lawyer obtained at trials where he/she represented Defendants in criminal cases; 3) has this particular lawyer ever obtained not guilty verdicts for Defendants in criminal cases; 4) how many times has this particular lawyer obtained not guilty verdicts for Defendants in criminal cases; 5) how long has it been since this particular lawyer obtained not guilty jury verdicts for Defendants in criminal cases; 6) how skilled is this particular lawyer at cross-examining prosecution witnesses at trial, on behalf of Defendants in criminal cases: 7) can this particular lawyer provide some samples of transcripts of cross-examination from criminal cases he/she has tried; 8) what other excellent results, apart from not guilty verdicts for Defendants in criminal cases has this particular lawyer obtained in criminal cases: 9) does this particular lawyer have a strategy for obtaining the best result for the client, and what is it; 10) does the client believe in this particular lawyer, and does this particular lawyer believe in the client and his/her cause, and; 11) has this particular lawyer been recognized for excellence at actually trying cases.
With all that information, comparing trial lawyers making the right choice should easier and less time consuming.
-Michael I. Leonard
Leonard Trial Lawyers