How does someone go about hiring an attorney who can do the best job for you? It’s not like everyone has a next-door neighbor or uncle who’s a criminal defense attorney. Word of mouth is an excellent source of information — probably the best. But when a personal recommendation isn’t available, there are other factors to consider if you’re searching for an attorney to represent you and tell your side of the story:
• Find an attorney with at least 10 years of experience in federal criminal court. With this experience comes familiarity with judges and prosecutors, and how they respond to various situations, which can be invaluable.
CHECK AN ATTORNEY'S CREDENTIALS
• Find out if they are certified by the state bar as an expert or specialist in their field. Board certification recognizes an attorney’s special knowledge, expertise, and proficiency in particular areas of law. I am Certified as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar.
• Also look into independent lawyer rating services. The easiest to use is AVVO.com. AVVO rates lawyers on a scale of 0–10, and also includes postings of reviews from clients and colleagues of the attorney you’re researching. I have a 10.0 AVVO rating as a result of having received over 144 5-star client reviews and have been recognized by AVVO with their Client's Choice Award.
• Martindale-Hubbell is another helpful rating service, offering an objective indicator of ethical standards and professional ability of attorneys, as generated from evaluations by other members of the bar and judiciary.
For more than a century, Martindale-Hubbell has been evaluating lawyers for their legal ability and high ethical standards through a Peer Review Rating system.
The goal of Martindale-Hubbell ratings is to keep the public informed when deciding to hire a lawyer. To qualify for an “A” rating an attorney had to be recognized as “Very High” in their legal ability and had been practicing for at least 10 years.
A second rating was also given to pair with the “A - B - C” legal ability rating. Attorneys rated by MH with a “V,” means that the attorney's peers stated they had "Very High" ethical standards.
“AV” rating means that the attorney had reached the highest of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. For more than 20-years I have held Martindale-Hubble’s coveted “AV” rating.
• Superlawyers.com has a sophisticated rating system for determining the best attorneys out there. They inform you of the top 5 percent of attorneys in every region, in every subject matter.Super Lawyers annually selects attorneys through a process bases on peer nominations, evaluations and independent research. Each nominee is graded on 12 factors of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers aims to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys as a reference for people searching for legal counsel to hire to help them with their legal problems.
Is the attorney a published author? Have they written any legal books? To date, I have written three books and plan to write more. The titles to my books are: White Collar Crime: Healthcare Fraud, How to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Florida and When the Feds Come Knocking. Check these titles in the "Offer" section of this website. Free downloads are available.
• Hire someone from your region. An attorney from outside the region may lack the personal relationships and familiarity with local judges and prosecutors that could help you to either be found not guilty, or to receive a lighter sentence.
• If at all possible, meet with prospective attorneys face to face in the interview process. It’s easier to get a feel for someone in person rather than over the phone.
Although it’s important to hire an attorney who can go to trial if necessary, it is also a good idea to have a backup plan. That’s not being defeatist; that’s being prepared.
I want people to be treated fairly, and I want them to achieve the best possible outcomes. The stakes are high. Time behind bars and/or the length of sentence may be on the line. Making the right call as far as who to hire as your attorney could be the biggest decision you ever make.
If you or someone you know is under investigation or has been arrested and you are looking to hire the best attorney you can, please call me to discuss your case.