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A Disturbing Trend March 25, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in Misc..
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While making money in a law practice isn’t exactly easy these days, I am doing ok.  I have a ton of appointments, but the amount of people that have no money, and I mean no money, is amazing.  For some lawyers, they are really hurting.  As a result, some big firms are laying off staff and others are pushing back start times for new hires.  However, it’s what is happening with the very small firms or solos that is very disturbing.

Lately, I’ve seen some lawyers in the criminal courts that I have never seen before, at least not there.  Instead of referring out a case, it seems that some lawyers are just pocketing the money and handling the case itself.  As a result, I fear that clients will suffer.  One of the biggest problems is that many lawyers view c riminal defense as easy.  You just beg and beg until the prosecutor gives you a deal that you can convince your client to take.  Thus, the only heavy lifting you do is holding your client’s hand when they sign the plea form.

This isn’t just my speculation.  I ask a lot of questions when I see someone that I know, for a fact, does not practice criminal law but is before a judge in a criminal court. I had one lawyer this week tell me that he was going to call me for help with his case because he thought the case would be easy but he is running into some serious problems.  I asked a few questions about his pre-trial strategy and his head nearly popped off.  He then said that he would probably just refer the case to me as he realized that he is in way over his head.

I think this is only going to continue as I hear more and more lawyers complain about the lack of money.  I just hope that clients actually do some homework and make sure that the lawyer they want to hire actually has some type of plan to handle the case and is not just taking the money.  For example, I just finished a case for a client and she wanted to give me some more business and handle a minor matter for her.  I “could” have taken her money, looked at her document and told her everything was fine.  Problem is, that would have been a total lie as I don’t know the first thing about that area of law.  Thus, I sent the case to another attorney.  I also did the exact same thing with an issue that my office manager’s spouse had.

In both cases, I could have made easy money  and hoped for the best that my “opinion” of everything being ok was true.  However, I always represent my clients like I would want to be represented.  Call me crazy, but I would not want to be lied to by my attorney.

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