I believe in treating my clients as intelligent equals in a joint venture to resolve their problems and restore their lives. This means treating you with dignity and respect regardless of the accusation against you. It means telling you what you need to know, not what I think you want to hear. It also means thoroughly reviewing evidence with you and explaining the law and procedure to you without talking down to you.
I believe in providing more value to my clients than they expect or request. This starts with being accessible and responsive to client needs. It goes beyond diligent preparation and prompt delivery of services. It is the result of taking a real human interest in my clients.
I believe the best lawyers genuinely delight in solving their clients’ problems and in helping their clients achieve their goals.
I strongly prefer to meet prospective clients face-to-face before forming an attorney-client relationship. I expect most prospective clients who are serious about hiring the right attorney would want to meet in person as well. So, unless distance or mobility are major impediments to meeting in person, we will meet at my office to discuss your case.
The attorney-client privilege applies to our initial consultation regardless of whether I formally accept representation or not. Our discussion is confidential. This allows an open and honest discussion of all the facts pertinent to your case.
Our initial consultation will take as long as we need for me to get an understanding of your situation and answer as many of your questions as I can at the early stages of your case.
I do not charge a fee for an initial consultation at my office. However, I do charge a fee to cover the extra time required for initial consultations in jails or other locations away from my office.
If we choose to work together, our agreement will be put in writing and will include the scope of representation and the fees to be paid.
My fees for representation are either fixed rate or hourly.
I typically use fixed fees for cases in which the workload is relatively predictable. Most misdemeanors (like DWI, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and marijuana possession) and some common felonies (like possession of a controlled substance and felon in possession of a firearm) fall into this category. In such cases, I have a very good idea of the volume of police reports, witness statements, audio-visual evidence, and lab reports there will be to review, and how many police and lay witnesses I will need to investigate.
The one thing I never know at the outset of any case is whether it will require a trial or not. A jury trial on a straightforward misdemeanor DWI will take at least two full days. Felony jury trials can easily consume an entire week. It would not be fair to bundle the significant additional costs of trial into a single fixed fee, especially if the case is dismissed or settled well ahead of trial. So, I ordinarily break a fixed fee into stages: a certain amount for all work done if the case is resolved without a trial, and an additional fixed amount to be charged only if the case is set for trial.
For cases I take on in an investigative stage (before charges are filed) and for complex cases, where the volume of discovery is unknown or the workload unpredictable, I will charge an hourly rate. In these situations, I require a deposit of funds (sometimes inaccurately called a “retainer”) into my IOLTA to secure payment of my fees. An IOLTA is a special bank account where unearned fees (and other funds that do not belong to the attorney) are held “in trust” for clients.
Hourly billing simply means that each month I will create a bill for your case by tallying up time spent, multiplying it by my hourly rate, and adding any expenses paid as part of the representation. The resulting billed amount is drawn out of the IOLTA, and I will provide you an accounting of my time and expenses. As the work required on a case depletes the amount on deposit in the IOLTA, additional deposits will be required. When the representation concludes, any money remaining “in trust” is refunded.
The other consideration in cost of representation is expenses. Depending on the type of case, your objectives for my representation, and the individual facts of your case, certain expenses might include fees for private investigators, consulting experts, testifying experts, costs of court reporter transcripts of testimony, large-scale document reproduction, audio-visual production, etc.
Expenses are easily added on to my time and drawn from my IOLTA in an hourly billing arrangement. However, fixed fee arrangements are strictly for my time and work, and expenses are not included as part of the fixed fee.
My general approach to criminal defense is simple: 1) Know the client, the facts of the case, and the applicable law better than anyone else; and 2) prepare every case as though it were certain to go to trial.
I like trials, I trust juries, and a significant number of my cases end up on the jury docket each year. In my experience, however, most if not all clients prefer that I bring their cases to favorable conclusions without the time, anxiety, and potential publicity associated with the trial of a criminal case.
The best way to avoid a trial is to prepare for trial. The platform for all negotiations with the prosecution comes from answering this question: what will happen if this case goes to trial? Successful negotiations do not come from empty saber-rattling. Dismissals and favorable plea agreements come from prosecutors who realize they are facing off against a skilled defense attorney who possesses a better command of the facts and a superior knowledge of the law, and who will not hesitate to put his client’s case in front of a jury.