Volume is the Enemy of Quality

I have learned that I cannot compete with other criminal defense firms when it comes to handling sheer volume at the lowest possible price. I haven’t developed the following tricks of the volume trade, nor do I intend to do so.

The Bait and Switch Lawyer
Many firms hire several younger attorneys and send them off into various courtrooms with a list of clients to find. This person goes in and out of the courtroom, yelling your name to find you. He or she is not the attorney that you thought you were getting when you paid your fee. This person may work very hard for you despite the lack of experience, but he or she is not the one who was taking down notes to become familiar with your case. This person does not even know what you look like, so how in the world could they know the important details of your case? You might ask yourself, “Why did I tell all of that stuff to the other attorney to prepare, when they’re not even here?” Here’s a question for you: Did the attorney you thought you hired sleep in this morning, or are they in another courtroom with a ‘more important’ client?

The Hurry Up and Wait Lawyer
Some clients wait for their attorney to show up at 3 p.m. when court started at 9 a.m. The attorney knows that the client has been present since court opened, because that is a bond condition. When the judge finally runs out of things to handle on the docket, he or she will ask the bailiff to go outside to call the attorney and tell them to appear immediately. Here is my question: Did that attorney forget that you had court, or does that attorney just not care? Here’s another good question: Why is it that the bailiff can get your lawyer to show up, but you can’t? When the lawyer appears, the judge will often show their distaste with a snarky comment like, “Glad that you could make it.” One particular attorney is so brazen that he just chuckles and says, “Oh, I thought I was early!” He believes that he has charmed the court, but the client is not amused.

The Uncouth Bluetooth Lawyer
There is one local attorney who carries around a clip board each morning with a list of names that fills an entire sheet of paper. He will wear a Bluetooth headset into the courtroom unless the judge makes him remove it. This attorney has learned to multi-task to the point where he can both listen to you and another client on the telephone at the very same time. Because he handles twice the amount of work, you will probably be able to hire him for a very reasonable price as well. At the end of the representation, you will most certainly regret it, but it will be too late.

The Hot Potato Lawyer
One lawyer in town will take your case with very little money upfront. However, if you ever complain about the way that this lawyer is (not) handling your case, or if you ever show up without a continuing fee, this attorney will become enraged and blow up on you, saying something like, “If you aren’t happy with my representation, that’s fine, I’m off the case!” This attorney will not offer a refund and leaves you standing there wondering if you should apologize even if you aren’t in the wrong just so he will return again. This attorney also likes to convince you to waive your preliminary hearing, so that you didn’t even get anything for your money in General Sessions. Then, when you call him after you get indicted, he doesn’t want the case. He prevented you from getting anyone else, and then he did a terrible job.

No lowest-price guarantee
If you are looking for the lowest possible price, then I am probably not the lawyer for you. The only way that I can compete with the lowest bidders is by hiring lots of fresh law school graduates, showing up several hours late for court, handling too many other clients at the same time as you, and giving you an initial low price but dropping you when the case requires real work. Perhaps I could charge too little to secure your business, and then later try to justify to myself why it was okay for me to not do the heavy lifting because I didn’t feel I was paid enough. It seems hard to believe, but the four lawyers above are very busy and very popular because they are inexpensive. As long as they focus on sales figures rather than results or client satisfaction, they can view their law practices as extremely successful.

I am also not the most expensive attorney in town. I believe that we can arrive at a fair price that allows me to do a great job representing you and also avoid the volume practice that I do not want to have.

Think about what’s at risk in this case and reevaluate your priorities. This criminal case has been an awful experience from the first day, and it’s time for things to get better. There is always a reason that someone offers the lowest price, and although you don’t know exactly which attorney you’re getting from the above, you know in your heart that you get what you pay for.