This morning I get a new client who brings a letter he received from another lawyer, and "Former Deputy Prosecutor" building his DUI practice. Here is part of the other lawyer’s pitch:
"You need legal help. The criminal process is very complex. Once you have been charged with a DUI, you have 7 DAYS to take action to avoid immediate suspension of your driver’s license. A criminal charge has jail time, court fines, probation, and loss of your driver’s license. Call me immediately …."
Once he has your attention, the lawyer gives you his office and cell phone numbers to call at once, to protect your rights. Kind of sound like a radio or TV advertisement for a used car? Do you really think that hiring a lawyer who is chasing you will solve your problems? Not likely! In fairness – this guy is not alone. Dozens of lawyers use the internet listing of persons arrested and charged with crimes, then send scary mail solicitations for their business. This kind of stuff leaves me cold! Do you want to hire the surgeon who follows you home begging your business or the one who is so busy that he has to fit you in? I know, DUI defense may not be surgery – but don’t kid yourself – it is risky to go with the lowest bidder. All of which is to say – be careful out there when hiring any lawyer. There are differences in experience between us that may work to your benefit or detriment. And the guy who sends you that direct mail advertising his or her availability "24 hours a day, 7 days a week" in Spanish or English – may or may not be the bargain you are looking for. Rule number one for hiring any lawyer – take a really deep breath. Relax. Allow yourself to think before you act. Then, (Rule number two), talk to another lawyer. A second opinion is a great thing. Maybe even get a third opinion, because the truth is, if you are in deep trouble you need to hire the right lawyer, not the first one to send you a letter begging your business.