In my 24 years practicing DUI and criminal defense, I have found that since about 1998, the internet is where people arrested for DUI look for their attorney. The age old question seems to be whether our future clients search for San Diego DUI Lawyer (since Vista, El Cajon, South Bay, and San Diego Central are all San Diego County Courts). Taking a step further, our clients may type in VC 23152 to search the internet for exact meaning of the vehicle code and maybe the DMV temporary license under the pink Admin Per Se paper they receive when released. The fact of the matter is that most of the criminal defense attorneys think in terms of how the lawyer thinks. And that is probably a mistake!
The best marketing gurus on the planet will all tell you to think outside the box. Or in the case of the best DUI lawyers, INSIDE THE BOX…..THE JURY BOX! Isn’t that how we win most of our criminal cases? What is important to the people without a law degree? That is what wins you cases. And I am here to remind DUI and all criminal defense lawyers alike, that what thinking like a client is what wins you potential clients. What is on there mind?
In case you have been in a bubble for the last six years (or you forgot what is was like when the bubble burst) you are aware that we, as citizens of the United States of America, are in the middle of what is now labeled “The Great Recession”. So what does that mean to our clients? It means they want a good, NO, they want a great DUI lawyer that; hold your breath…… that is AFFORDABLE!
While I was speaking to a potential client on the phone last Friday, I asked her, “how did you find me?” On the internet, she replied. “What did you type in your search – exactly – it really helps me to know.” She replied, Affordable Lawyer. “Is that exactly what you typed?” I asked. Sheepishly, and after having had a conversation long enough to establish some trust, she said, “I actually typed in Good Cheap DUI Lawyer. “Thanks for your honesty”, I replied. “It really helps me to understand, and sometimes. I just don’t get it.” She laughed when I said I was not offended to be called “Cheap” under the circumstances we all understand to be the new reality.
I have been conducting this survey of my potential clients for over three years and I have had well over 350 honest responses. 350 responses is a respectable sample by which to conduct marketing research. And I have heard my clients tell me that they were impressed by credentials and reputation throughout the community, but when I wrote PAYMENT PLANS in my website, they decided to make the call. It is important to note that I direct my answering service to direct all the calls to me. 24hrs 7 days a week, I will take the call because potential clients want to talk to the lawyer, not a salesman. As difficult as that is, I try my best. If I cannot take the call immediately, I will call them back the first opportunity I have. They want answers and they are scared. I want them to know that we can get them through this horrific event in their life. They need to know you can help. That you will do everything possible to win.
Our clients appreciate small victories and small ones, as well. If you are dealing with a nursing student, military personal, or just somebody with a job, they are so happy just to keep their job in this economy. I do not believe anyone will argue with you about that point.
However, the last point I would like to make in this presentation is to remind all the lawyers, attorneys, counselors at law, or however you would like to refer to yourselves, that you have a duty under the oath you swore upon when becoming a member of the Bar. And the ethical duty a lawyer has in determining a fee includes, among many things, “The determination of the reasonableness of a fee requires consideration of all relevant circumstances …”
That is why it is important to ask questions regarding what your potential client does for work? What is his or her family situation? What are their current financial obligations? Will the family help? How will this case affect their job or their future? What is their current state of mental health? All of these questions should be asked when gathering facts about the arrest and charges that your potential client is facing.
Lawyers have a duty to their clients to not only provide the best possible defense, but to provide affordable, yes, even “cheap” representation that the client can afford if possible. My grandfather was a lawyer who found himself accepting goats and chickens in payment. My father who was also a lawyer, before he became a judge, once accepted a yearling Hereford steer (or cow for those of you who aren’t familiar with ranch talk) which I raised and participated in 4-H fat steer show. I placed second in the premier class that year and was as thankful as a 13 year old could be. Maybe our client had that golden opportunity to “pay it forward” that year because my father won his case!