What Should You Look for When Considering Retaining an Attorney and What Should You Look out for?
Interviewer: What are some qualities that they should be looking for in choosing a lawyer, but at the same time what are some red flags to at least look out for?
Always Meet the Attorney in Person
Paul Cramm: I certainly think they need to make time to sit down in the conference room face-to-face with every lawyer that they are considering hiring. That’s first and foremost. I don’t think this is a type of decision that someone can make over the phone.
Experience Is a Significant Factor
I do think that experience plays a significant role in the practice of law. A lot of what we do as lawyers boils down to pure flight time. It would be difficult to imagine handling this type of case when I was in my first, second or third year out of law school.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done—but when I think about what I know now and how I came to know that—I’m not sure that I would have provided the same level of representation and defense my second year out of law school that I’m capable of providing today.
Look at the Focus of the Practice—It Is Important to Retain a Criminal Defense Attorney
I would certainly want to ask prospective lawyers how much of their caseload is devoted to criminal defense. I think that a jack of all trades is typically a master of none. If someone advertises divorce, child custody, personal injury, estate planning and criminal defense, I’m not sure that’s the type of lawyer that would provide the highest level of defense. They might not be able to provide the most thorough defense in a complex vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter case.
I want to make sure that someone has the requisite experience, focuses their practice on criminal defense and has actually handled more than just one or two similar cases through complex plea negotiations and through jury trial when necessary.
I would ask the lawyer for copies of written work and pleadings they’d filed with the court, just to get a feel for their work product. Finally, I would want to ask that lawyer how many significant cases are open and pending in their practice at the time the person is meeting with them.
How Many cases Does the Attorney Have Pending? Ensure the Attorney Is Not Currently Carrying a Heavy Caseload
How many big cases do you have and how much time do you have for my case? I think those are all really important topics to address with any prospective attorney.
Are the Roadways Now Safer Due to New Legislation?
Interviewer: With the new rules and regulations, you think roadways are safer now than years past?
Paul Cramm: I think that’s hard to say. I think as our population grows practically exponentially, there are so many people on the roadways now and there are so many distractions to people who are on the roadways. I think that it’s pretty fast-paced and pretty busy out there. I think driving is becoming a pretty dangerous task.
Why Is Experience an Important Attribute for an Attorney?
Interviewer: If I am choosing a lawyer, why would you be an ideal candidate to represent me in this kind of case?
Paul Cramm: I think it boils down to all of the factors that I would advise people to explore when meeting with and interviewing prospective counsel. I think I have got the right answers to all those questions. I’ve been practicing long enough to have some meaningful legitimate experience. I’ve handled many of these cases and have tried several of them through jury.
I understand the law and I maintain a solid but limited practice. If I accept a case of this nature, that client can rest assured that I’m accepting the case at a time and under circumstances when I have the availability, the time and the office resources to devote to them.
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