How to Befriend a Good Lawyer who will Treat you Right
Inexpensive does not equal bad and expensive does not equal good. People who charge a lot for their services have a high opinion of their worth, or a low opinion of your judgment, or have to because they are debt ridden (which should make you wonder at their judgment). Sometimes you will find honest people who are good at what they do and are not so expensive. Likewise, you will find expensive people who are also good at what they do. But many times you will find expensive people are not so good—they just pretend well. Words of wisdom.
Winning in court should be about justice, not about how much you pay. True, if you hire a specialist and pay a lot, you will likely get favorable results in the courtroom, even if you end up broke. Look at the dream team at OJ Simpson’s murder trial, if you want an example. He paid a lot for famous lawyers. He was acquitted and became broke. Did OJ get justice? Did California?
Then look at Leandro Andrade. He was a petty shoplifter in California who was caught shoplifting children’s videos before Christmas in two different K-marts. Normally misdemeanors, these crimes were escalated to felonies because of his prior non-violent and petty criminal record. Then, the felonies were turned into his third and fourth strikes under California’s three strikes law. He did not have money to hire good lawyers. He was sentenced to a minimum of 50 years in prison and a maximum of life for shoplifting. Here again, we have to ask, was justice served? One has to wonder, would Leandro have been treated so harshly if he would have had OJ’s lawyers—or any lawyer worth a damn or who gave a damn?
America is a land of laws. We are subject to the rule of law. Lawyers are the soldiers in the fight for justice. More important than any dollar amount you pay to your lawyer is how you are treated and what you will get in the end. Does the lawyer respect you? Does the lawyer give you sound advice? Return calls? Or does the lawyer pretend to never be at the office, refuse to give you any free legal advice, and has secretaries call you back to answer your questions and yet still charge you over $300 per hour. Likely you are also paying over $150 per hour for a secretary/paralegal/law clerk to talk to you on the phone.
Does your lawyer tell you what your options are and then let you decide your fate? Or does the lawyer just do whatever the lawyer wants and keep you in the dark? Does your lawyer honestly tell you his/her experience in dealing with the issue you have brought, or does the lawyer look uneasy and then lie to your face? Does your lawyer explain the Fee Agreement or Representation Agreement to you and let you know that you can have still another attorney review it since it is a legal contract between you both? Or does the lawyer just have you quickly sign a bunch of papers without giving you time to read and understand your rights and duties under the contract?
I do not mean to be so harsh on my fellow attorneys. I have many who are friends. But, I know far too many who sit in a soft chair all day, get fat, bill their clients exorbitantly and then buy houses and cars they have no time to enjoy because they are too busy making more money to pay for everything. Then, they get sick. They get heart attacks or cancer. They buy great health insurance with the money they earn from clients and hope to survive to return to making money at their firms. I am not bitter at those attorneys at all. I just decided their way of life was not my way. I looked for other attorneys that I could respect and learn from. I found them.
I know a few excellent attorneys who actually care about their clients. They want to make a living and also want the people who trust them to like them and come back for other matters. Yes, most of them charge more than I do, but often times they do a lot of work for free too. These attorneys enjoy the law not because it makes them a fortune, but because it allows them to live a healthy balanced life. Instead of getting rich, they spend time working out, raising families, and enjoying their freedom all while working to ensure their clients can also enjoy the pursuit of happiness for which America stands.
The attorneys that I know and would trust with my legal issues generally do not work for big firms and usually run their own practices. They do not advertise on television or have big billboards. They are grounded, down to earth people whom you would probably like to have as friends. If you want to make friends with an attorney like this, it is simple--send them business, yours, and other peoples. Buy them lunch once in a while to discuss your case. They will appreciate it and you may be invited to dinners or parties or get inexpensive legal assistance in the future.