The scenario may be that you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint last night on your way home from the company holiday party. Your search for a cheap DUI lawyer has begun. Or did you mean “affordable attorney” because maybe a “cheap lawyer” is not a good lawyer!
And really, you want the best DUI lawyer in San Diego or wherever you live, for an affordable rate. So, you settle on the fact that you want the best DUI lawyer with a payment plan you can afford. Whew!
Most people will Google the best “San Diego DUI lawyer with an affordable payment plan”.
Buyer Beware! – There are Pitfalls and Hazards when using Google to find your lawyer. Here are some simple rules to follow when looking for a DUI lawyer in any state.
To avoid any potential lawsuits I must add the disclaimer that this is just my opinion. Or, “IMHO after practicing criminal defense for 25 years and talking with thousands of clients, the following steps will help you find the right DUI lawyer for you!
1. Use Common Sense – Clients Pay for Cost of Ads ! Skip the “Paid for Ads” at the top of the search page (it says “ad” in a little yellow box). Think twice about clicking on the ads on the top and side of the page. Why? They may be good affordable lawyers, but they pay to be on top and you are going to pay for their marketing and at about $36 a “click” in a competitive market like San Diego, that adds up fast. The costs will be passed along to the consumer – you.
2. Start With Attorney Websites Under Paid Ads with stars and reviews – Those are the top “organic listings” which means the websites UNDER the paid for placement ads at the top. Although Google will be the first to tell you they are not perfect, Google does a darn good job of reviewing the content of the websites before placing those websites under the “yellow box paid for ads” or placement. That means, Google watches to see if website is reliable and giving good info on the subject you are searching. Good law firms get listed in the first two pages. It does not mean that good law firms don’t pay to be placed on top some of the time for more business, so take it for what it is worth. Remember, the cost of “yellow box ads” is passed on to the client as a general rule.
3. Find Reliable Reviews – Next, see if the law firm website you are about to click on has many Google reviews. READ REVIEWS! Google makes it easy to write a review. Then it is your job to read some and see if you think they are written by real clients. “The devil is in the details” as the old saying goes. If someone thinks highly of a firm, they will DETAIL or tell you exactly what happened in their own words which are not always perfect. You can usually tell if the review is written by a paid college student that has no clue what they are writing about or professional review writers.
4. READ REVIEWS – If the website has very few reviews but are placed above websites with many reviews, you should be suspicious. The law firm, (that is what we are talking about) may have a good SEO guy or gal (that’s short for Search Engine Optimization) but very few clients (that’s weird). You can give them the benefit of the doubt by checking other free or “member only” reviews such as Google, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo. READ REVIEWS
5. Directories like AVVO, Find Law Are Confusing! Yikes! Do you remember yourself or anyone you know graduating and later receiving a “Who’s Who in America” invitation. This is just my opinion, but if you get a letter that says “you have been selected as a potential member of the exclusive “ One of the Best in America” association. Just fill out this form and send in $759.00 for our book with your name in it! Again, in my opinion, any directory (and I am talking to you AVVO, Super Lawyers , Best Lawyers in America, Justia, Thumbtack and even the formerly highly esteemed Martindale-Hubble) or any directory in which you must pay money or pay to advertise – to be considered for their listing, or your listing gets higher by a super-secret algorithm – is, in my opinion, highly suspect. I don’t trust them. Enough said.
6. Call Law Firms to Talk an Actual Lawyers. Start calling and have paper and pen to take notes.
(I) Can I talk to an actual lawyer – don’t be afraid to ask! If it is not a lawyer, you may just as well talk to somebody standing on a street corner for legal advice.
(II) Do they ask questions? A lawyer needs to listen after they ask the questions. If you give them a long narrative, you might not be speaking with an assertive attorney and isn’t that what you want?
(III) Be wary of a lawyer that quotes fees over the phone.
Could you call a body shop and ask them how much to fix a car or a doctor, how much to fix my broken arm? If you feel good about the lawyer on the phone, make an appointment and talk with them. Your future is in their hands and if you find out the lawyer has no office and practices out of his or her trunk, you might be talking about a intriguing setting for a movie, but not real life…your life.
Caution! Directories and Out of Town Lawyers Who are Out of Touch! IMHO Reviews in AVVO, Justia , FindLaw, and other pay to play directories are inherently unreliable. All of us lawyers have little choice but to fill out the listings. We do have a choice in whether we advertise to have “favorable placement” in the directory. As a DUI lawyer, I have been listed below another lawyer Los Angeles which is 100 miles North of Chula Vista and its courthouse (my office is literally across the street). That result was under the “find a DUI lawyer in Chula Vista” search. Yikes!
Caution! Don’t Fill Out Forms – IMHO Especially in DUI and criminal cases, if you must fill out a form to be referred to a lawyer, you have just put yourself out there like dangling chum in sea. Sharks! Decide for yourself, but if it is damn hard to find a lawyer, it is damn hard to trust the lawyer that finds you off a form. Desperate lawyers do desperate things….. just read here.
Research like a Detective! – Open another window and search the law firm on Google Maps. That way you can look at the pictures of the office, lawyers and staff (if they have a real office) and read the reviews. Take notes as to which law firms give you a good impression. If you are not getting a good feeling, go to The State Bar of California and type in the lawyers name which should be somewhere on the website in the about us or bottom of the page. Take note as to 1) How long have they been a lawyer? 2) What is the location of the lawyer – in another city? Watch out!
You might hire a lawyer marketing firm to hire a law firm who hires a lawyer in your city. Get it? In DUI law, bigger is not better, it is a higher fee split and diluted by the time it gets to your lawyer that may be practicing out of his or her truck (or the local Denny’s).
Bottom Line is get a Local Lawyer with a Good Reputation! Makes sense, doesn’t it? Just follow the suggestions above and you will feel much better about who you ultimately choose to put your future in his or her Legal Hands!