Why (Some) Lawyers SuckWhy (Some) Lawyers Suck

Why do many lawyers suck ? Let’s face it, lawyers have a bad reputation. And I’ll admit, it’s often well deserved. The problem is the inherent conflict of interest between a lawyer and the client, and this is magnified in the field of criminal law. A person is in trouble with the law and turns to a lawyer for help. The potential client’s goal is to protect his license, job, or freedom. That should be the lawyer’s goal as well, but unfortunately many lawyers are more concerned with getting paid building the ‘lawyers suck’ reputation. An unscrupulous lawyer may intentionally scare the potential client into thinking that if he doesn’t hire the lawyer, he will go to jail.

Could Carry a JAIL SENTENCE up to Six Months !
This is blatantly obvious on many lawyer websites online, as generally the most serious consequences of an offense are listed, when those maximum sentences are almost never applied in real life. For example, a conviction for a charge of driving without a license, VC 12500(a), could carry a jail sentence of up to six months. But, if a soccer mom with nothing more serious in her life than a speeding ticket forgets to renew her license when it expired, there is no way she is going to jail. Most likely she is looking a fine of a couple hundred dollars. It’s not even a point on her driving record!

The Best Interests of the Client ?

I received a call not long ago from a former client who had been involved in a hit and run. It was late at night a few days prior, in a neighborhood he was unfamiliar with. He backed into a vehicle, and then panicked and drove away. He had no idea if anyone saw him or not. Obviously, the right move would have been to stop and leave a note. That was no longer an option, as by the time he called me it was clear he was guilty of a hit and run. Morally, maybe the correct move at this point was to turn himself in. But he certainly would face criminal charges if he did so. The advice I gave him was simple: Don’t do anything, except cross your fingers that nobody got your license plate. If the police call, refuse to speak with them, then call me back. It was simple advice. And it was advice clearly in his best interest.

But this client had already spoken with another criminal attorney. And that attorney advised him that the best course of action was to come down to that attorney’s office right away and sign a retainer agreement, charging him $1,500. The client and the lawyer would then go to the police station together to turn himself in, where presumably the fact that he came forward voluntarily meant the police and district attorney would take it easy on him. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard this. Talk about the worst advice ever! The lawyer in this situation created a scenario with the sole objective of getting paid, the best interests of the client be damned. Or, some might agree, some lawyers suck in their purported goal of protecting the client.

“Caveat Emptor” – Let the Buyer Beware

As in any field, with a criminal or traffic attorney, remember “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware. It’s important to do some research before hiring a lawyer. Get recommendations from people you know, check the attorney’s profile on the state bar website, and consult with services like Yelp or AVVO for feedback from former clients. If it sounds like an attorney is trying to scare you with the potential consequences, it’s definitely a good idea to seek a second opinion. Why? Because when your best interests are on the chopping block, some lawyers suck.

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