Friday, May 11, 2012
MN Criminal Defense Lawyers (Affordable vs. Cheap)
When I was in school, as you can imagine, I lived on a tight budget. These restriction forced me to cut corners and to do without. But, what I came to learn - especially as it concerned my love for a certain chocolate ice cream - the bargain basement/generic brand just couldn't/wouldn't cut it. This experience taught me a hard lesson about value vs. cost.
Now, I did eventually find a suitable substitute and often (still) purchase it instead of my favorite - earning me an nice little savings each time I pick up a pint at the grocery store. So, it isn't that all generic ice creams are disgusting, but the first one I tried sure was.
How does this relate to hiring an attorney? Just like with cheap ice cream, it's all about finding a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney that both fits your budget and your taste.
What Should You Pay?
In a perfect world, money would be no object for people when choosing a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer and they would be able to meet with many prospects - determining which one is the best fit for them, and then happily write a check for whatever the agreed upon amount for representation ends up being. Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works. Most people need to shop for bargains for everything from ice cream to shoelaces. Picking a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys should be no different.
However, that is easier said than done when you future's on the line - right? Seriously, how do you avoid getting the sh*thead attorney and having to learn your lesson the hard way? There are a few things you can do to "test" lawyers when you meet with them that can help you figure out whether they're inexpensive because they're bad or just because they're economical.
What to Consider
First, don't bring up price with a lawyer before you talk about anything else. The last thing I want to hear from a potential client as soon as I answer the phone is "I'm just looking for a price for..." What this tells me is that their plan is to call a ton of lawyers to find out which one will agree to do it for the least money. I don't want those clients. I believe that my rates are exceptionally reasonable, and I have even been known to cut folks a deal in certain situations, but a client that cares more about getting a good price than they do about getting good representation isn't one that I want to work with.
Clients like that are often less interested in participating in their defense and are less likely to ever pay the reduced fee they are looking for. Don't be that kind of client. If for no other reason, bring up cost at the beginning of a consultation is not effective because most lawyers will want to hear what they're dealing with before they'll give you a quote. Minnesota Criminal Defense attorneys know their services are expensive and cost prohibitive for a lot of people. If your case is interesting enough, some lawyers may be willing to meet you in the middle on fees. You'll never find out if they are open to that if you offend them by complaining about money right away.
Second, have good questions ready when you call or meet with an attorney. Most lawyers won't have all the answers for you during an initial consultation. That's what legal research is for. They should, however, be able to answer your basic questions regarding the type of punishment you could face, potential defense strategies, and your case's strengths and weaknesses. If you meet with a lawyer that doesn't seem to know much about your charge, that's a red flag. All attorneys will say things like "I'll have to look this up" or "this is somewhat unique, so I'll have to look at some cases," but those shouldn't be the only answers they offer. Look for an attorney who appears to be up on current laws, precedents, and techniques in the field. Attorney's who aren't will spend a lot of time looking up basic questions, which in the end will end up costing you money in billable hours.
Third, be extremely leery of any lawyer who's quote is significantly lower than other lawyers you meet with. If four lawyers quoted you between $2500 and $3000 for a certain case, be careful of the attorney who says he can do it for $1000. Rates that low can be indicators of three things:
1) This lawyer is so new to the game that he or she has no idea what their time is worth. While I don't think experience is all it's cracked up to be (experience is something older attorneys highlight, while younger attorneys highlight how hard they work and the attention they'll give you), you don't want someone handling your case who clearly has no idea what they're getting into;
2) This lawyer, for whatever reason, has so much trouble finding clients that when someone calls them with a case, they will agree to pretty much any fee arrangement just to sign the client. Aggressiveness is a good quality in a lawyer; desperation is not. An attorney that is so desperate to sign you to an agreement that they're willing to charge 40% of what everyone else charges for your case is an attorney you'll want to steer clear of; and
3) This lawyer charges so little because he or she takes any and every case that comes across his desk and deals with a HUGE volume of work. I call this the Costco theory of lawyering. Costco can sell goods at reduced costs because they buy and sell so damn much of everything. Their profit margin on each item might be a little less than a smaller store, but the sheer volume of transactions make them on of the most profitable companies in the world. The issue with Costco is that their products and service aren't always top notch. The same goes for attorneys who overextend themselves.
What Should You Do?
Basically, you need to use common sense when hiring a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, just the same as you need to when purchasing a car, house, or ice cream. If you feel comfortable with a lawyer and they meet your budget, your search is over. If you feel comfortable with someone but they charge more than you're really prepared to spend, you need to decide whether it's worth the extended cost to get representation you'll be comfortable with. If someone is in your price range but doesn't exactly instill you with confidence in their ability to handle your case efficiently and effectively, you're probably better off continuing your search.
There's no doubt that finding the right attorney can be an arduous process. Whether you've been charged with Drunk Driving, a felony, a misdemeanor, a traffic violation, or a juvenile crime, contact the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165 to get a FREE consultation and see what it's like to have someone on your journey with you.