Why Cheap Attorneys Are Not Good
Lies, lies and more lies that Cheap Attorneys will tell you to get your business
Cheap attorneys like to sell the sizzle without the steak. In other words, cheap attorneys will tell you all the things you want to hear, without supplying with the documentation to back it up. For example, when you initially see an attorney, you generally have two questions, and not necessarily in this order.
FIRST, you want to know – “do you have any experience handling my type of case?” To dramatize my point, no two drunk driving cases are ever the same. Similarly, no two murder cases are ever the same.
LIE #1 – Of course the cheap attorney will tell you that he/she has handled numerous cases just like yours and has gotten unbelievable results. Don’t be fooled. Ask to see actual case numbers and case names that back up the cheap attorney’s phenomenal claims. Then go to the court, obtain a court case docket and inspect whether the results obtained support the attorney’s claims.
Remember, if it is too good to believe, it is ordinarily not true. Don’t be fooled into believing an attorney’s response that case information is confidential and cannot be disclosed. In my retainer agreements, I obtain the client’s permission to use all case information for web posting and marketing for my law firm. On my website you will see actual names, case numbers, the specific charges, the jail exposure and the actual results obtained. Don’t take my word for it, you can do your own independent investigation and I urge you to obtain a copy of the court case docket from the court to verify my representations.
SECOND QUESTION ASKED BY THE CONSUMER, “how much it is going to cost to defend the client?” Lie #2 – Cheap attorneys give a low-ball price only to repeatedly come back to you for more and more money, over and over again. Remember – You get what you pay for. Cheap attorneys cut costs by not actually visiting the client in jail, saying that they can speak to the client in lock up in court on the day of their court appearance. Lock ups in court are generally full with other inmates. You cannot have a confidential conversation in such a setting. Cheap attorneys eliminate the time and costs of driving to jail to speak with their client about their case in a confidential setting. Other cost saving techniques cheap attorneys employ is that once they are retained, they don’t return your telephone calls. Cheap attorneys also tell you that they cannot discuss the client’s case with you because the attorney-client relationship prohibits them from discussing the case with you. Malarkey. The client can always give the attorney permission to discuss the case with specific and trusted family members.
It is always my practice to obtain the client’s permission to discuss the client’s case with trusted family members. In serious cases, there is always a lot of rumors swirling about a case. Specific family members that the client trust, need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a client’s case. There may come a point in time where a plea bargain is extended and the client will invariably seek the counsel and advise of his/her family members on what to do. If the family is in the dark, how can they honestly assist the client come to a very important decision of whether to accept the offer to settle the case or to instead proceed to trial.
To cut costs, Cheap Attorneys have other cheaper attorneys make the court appearance on behalf of the cheap attorney that was initially retained.
Lie#3 – Cheap attorneys give you guarantees about the outcome of your case. No honest attorney can possibly give you a guarantee about the outcome of your case. A good attorney can only guarantee his/her best efforts, based on their education, background and verified success in negotiating similar cases or successfully obtaining verifiable, “not guilty” verdicts at trial. The cheap attorney is just telling you what you want to hear to separate you from your money. There are four necessary parties to settling a case, defense counsel and his/her client, the district attorney and the judge. All four parties must agree before a case is settled, otherwise we go to trial. No cheap attorney can guarantee what the prosecutor and judge will do.
Don’t be fooled by a cheap attorney’s representations about his or her ability. Independently check out the attorney. Go to the California State Bar website, http://www.calbar.ca.gov and do a search on the attorney. What colleges did they attend, what law school, did they attend? If they are a criminal attorney, do they belong to the criminal law section of the state bar? Look to see if the attorney has been disciplined by the California State Bar in the last 10 to 20 years. If so, there will be a pdf file of their disciplinary proceedings listed on the State Bar website. Take the time to read what an attorney has been disciplined for. Beware, did the attorney commit an act of theft from a client, or otherwise betray the client’s trust?
Visit perhaps the best and most honest website for evaluating an attorney is www.martindale.com. This site will provide an honest evaluation of an attorney because the attorney will have been evaluated anonymously by other attorneys and more importantly by judges who encounter attorneys daily in their courtrooms. An attorney will be either receive no rating, which should immediately tell you that the attorney has not practiced enough in a courtroom to be evaluated by other attorneys or judges. Otherwise, the attorney will receive a BV, the lowest acknowledged rating, an AV rating, where less than 10% of all attorneys in California have an AV rating. Or the attorney may have an AV preeminent rating, the highest possible rating for legal ability and ethical standards. Less than 1% of all attorneys in California have the prestigious AV preeminent rating.
By now it should be apparent to you that CHEAP ATTORNEYS ARE NOT GOOD, AND GOOD ATTORNEYS ARE NOT CHEAP.
Finally, does the attorney protect the consumer, by carrying malpractice insurance. Ask to see the attorney’s malpractice insurance coverage policy. Is the malpractice insurance policy current? Does the insurance coverage exceed $1 million dollars?
In closing, do not be enticed or tempted to go with the cheapest attorney. There is a reason why cheap attorneys are cheap. Cheap attorneys cut costs and do not properly and professionally represent the client. Remember two things. First, cheap attorneys are not good and good attorneys are not cheap. Second, preparing and developing a proper defense is not cheap, but then again, how much is your freedom worth? A well-prepared attorney can and will make a difference between getting you off, or obtaining a result that you are happy with vs. losing your freedom and money for an extended period of time.
Don’t throw your money and freedom away to a cheap attorney who sells you the sizzle but does not deliver the results.