The media regularly holds up “celebrity” lawyers as miracle workers—able to get people off from impossible charges against them. Are they really better? If you were charged with a crime, would you be better off with a celebrity lawyer? From over 30 years of work as a lawyer in courtrooms, here are three ideas I have:
1. Celebrity lawyers get their reputations in many ways—usually it’s because they began as exceptionally good lawyers. This involves hard work, preparation, knowledge of the law, and an ability to work effectively with prosecutors and judges. If you are charged with a crime and can afford to hire a lawyer like this—do it! You’ll be in good hands.
2. Sometimes, a celebrity lawyer get to that status by representing other celebrities—and may really be a worthless lawyer! Obviously, avoid these. But how can you tell?
–A bad lawyer will rarely talk with you or listen to your ideas.
–A bad lawyer won’t tell you about the evidence against you, possible defenses, and any communications from the prosecutor.
–A bad lawyer won’t be able to answer your questions about the law—he probably doesn’t know much law
—A bad lawyer spends more time talking to the media that talking to you. If you learn more about your case in the media that from your lawyer—that’s a bad sign!
–A good lawyer is one that you feel comfortable with and can trust. Your interests always come first. (Even before you pay)
3. If not a celebrity lawyer, who should you choose?
–If your income is low, go with a Public Defender. They are experts in criminal work because that’s what they do all the time.
–A possible problem could be their caseloads which are high. You must make certain the Public Defender lawyer has enough time to give your case her full attention.
–Check the local BAR Association. They often publish lists of lawyers who are considered the “best” in their fields. The lists come from other lawyers who recommend the “best” lawyers for the list. This is really the bottom-line: do other lawyers in the area respect the lawyer you’re considering? And it could be the best are also celebrity lawyers.
–Depending on your income, these “best” lawyers may be willing to take your case at reduced fees.
In the meantime, good luck. But the best advice I can give you is to not get charged with a crime!!