Whether you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offence for the first time, or you’ve been through the court system before, the uncertainty of what may lie ahead can cause significant stress and anxiety.
However, knowing what to look for when determining whether the lawyer you consider entrusting with potentially one of the most impactful services of your life is the right one for you and your case can make all the difference – both in terms of making the process easier for you and achieving the optimal result.
Here are some of the key factors to consider when deciding the best law firm and lawyer for you:
Specialisation and expertise
It is sometimes said you wouldn’t go to a general medical practitioner to perform heart surgery, so why would you consult a law firm that practises in a range of fields when you have a criminal law case?
Criminal law is a highly-specialised field, and it is important to engage a law firm and lawyer who does not spread themselves across several areas of the law – but is a true specialist and has dedicated his or her time and years of experience to be an expert in that field, ensuring the legal representation you receive is well-informed and truly first class.
So, it may be a good idea to avoid general firms such as those who practise in a number of areas if you have a criminal or traffic law case.
Extensive relevant experience
By the same token, it is important to engage lawyers who have extensive experience in representing clients that are before the court for cases that are similar yours.
Relevant experience is vital in ensuring your lawyer is able to formulate and execute effective defence strategies, and provide you with the highest likelihood of achieving the optimal outcome in your case.
Endorsements and client testimonials
Reviews from clients who have used the services of the law firm and lawyer you are considering to engage are often insightful, as they will give you an idea of what others feel about their own experiences.
This information can offer a valuable understanding of the law firm and lawyer’s ability to provide a high level of client satisfaction and deliver exceptional results.
Track record of exceptional results
It is equally important to ensure the law firm and lawyer you engage has a long and proven track record of successful outcomes in the type of case you are facing.
This can often be ascertained through their published results, and you can always quiz the lawyer you are considering to engage about how he or she has dealt with similar cases, as well as the results achieved.
Empathy and compassion
A good criminal lawyer will be able to see themselves from your situation, to comprehend what you are going through and ensure everything is done to ensure the stress involved in the process is as minimal as possible.
Timely and effective communication, empathy and compassion are the hallmarks of a good criminal defence lawyer.
In that regard, your lawyer must explain the way forward and keep you updated throughout the process, and you should be able to ask any questions that come to your mind and have them answered right away.
There are law firms and lawyers who will adjourn cases from court date to court date, with little done in between.
If you are unfortunate enough to have such an experience, run. Take care of your interests and consider changing lawyers.
The lawyer you engage should take a proactive approach to your case by undertaking legal extensive legal work from the time of engagement, and fighting to have your charges withdrawn or – if the prosecution case is extremely strong – downgraded to less serious charges.
Criminal charges can often be dropped or downgraded through the submission of ‘representations’ (formal documents to prosecutors requesting withdrawal / downgrading) followed by negotiations to ensure your case is not unnecessarily dragged on.
Independent advocacy experience
It is important to engage a lawyer with vast experience in independent advocacy – meaning who has a great deal of experience in representing clients in court without, like many firms, having to rely on outside assistance such as a ‘wig and gown barrister’; in other words, they firm simply ‘solicits’ the work before ultimately handing the court work off to someone who is more experienced and competent in that area.
You should therefore ensure your lawyer has a long track record of independently representing clients for your matter-type on a regular basis inside the courtroom.
If a lawyer suggests they need outside help to do this, you should consider engaging another law firm.
Have a clear discussion about the lawyer’s fees and billing practices upfront to prevent misunderstandings later.
Whether the legal costs are on a fixed fee basis, or charged hourly basis, it is important ot be on the same page when it comes to fees.
A criminal defence lawyer should be transparent about their charges and billing methods.
Your criminal lawyer will represent you during a challenging and potentially stressful time.
Feeling comfortable with and trusting the criminal defence lawyer you choose is essential.
Knowing that a criminal defence lawyer will maintain strict confidentiality regarding your case and personal information will ensure that you feel comfortable in discussing sensitive topics.
Take your time
Remember, selecting the right criminal lawyer is critical to safeguarding your rights, building a robust defence, making the process easier for you and ultimately giving you the best prospects of a successful outcome.
So, take your time when making the important decision of which law firm and lawyer to engage.
If you decide to choose our law firm, we can assure you we will do everything we can to meet your expectations and produce the best possible outcome for you.