It isn’t easy to evaluate DUI defense attorney regarding their skill and expertise based strictly on their “Internet presence”.
An interesting article came out a few years ago on the subject of how Drunk Driving DUI attorneys/law firms market their services. *Two Lawyers Walk Into a Bar* originally published in the May 2009 issue of California Lawyer. * 2009 Daily Journal Corporation, San Francisco, California. I suggest you read the article in it’s entirety which can be found here. https://www.dailyjournal.com/articles/308931-two-lawyers-walk-into-a-bar.
Fair Use permitted by 17 U.S. Code * 107.
2. Real DUI “Pros” versus “Low-Ball” DUI Lawyers
As the article cited above states, at one end of the spectrum are the specialists who’ve spent much of their professional lives mastering arcane technical issues such as blood and breath partition ratios, microbial contamination in urinalysis, and the perils of retrograde extrapolation in roadside chemical tests.
At the other end of the spectrum are cut-rate practitioners with no particular expertise, who charge as little as $1,000 per case. These include “dump truck” lawyers, who sign up as many clients as possible and then dump them all on the guilty-plea docket; and “escort” lawyers, who escort clients up to the judge like a high-paid call girl, plead them guilty, and then disappear with the money. These DUI mills typically offer a low- ball rate to clients, and they tend to give commensurate service.
Some attorneys troll for DUI clients by buying up Google keywords such as “cheap dui lawyer” so that their ad will appear prominently in search results when potential clients cruise the Internet.”
3. “Jail Mail”
Another marketing approach is to send out what*s known as “jail mail.” Third-party services such as United Reporting Publishing Corporation (jailmail.com) provide attorneys with local arrest reports listing the names of people picked up on DUI charges (as well as other types of arrests that lawyers buy for as little as $50 a name). Attorneys then send the accused unsolicited ads, brochures, letters, etc. offering their services.
“I tell my clients if they don*t want their wives or husbands to know about their DUI arrest, they should keep an eye on the mail,” says Paul Burglin a San Francisco DUI defense specialist, “because they*re going to get a dozen solicitations from lawyers after they get arrested.”
It’s even worse than portrayed in the article which was written 9 years ago. Instead of receiving only a dozen different unsolicited ads, brochures, letters, etc. in your mail, nowadays there are 30 or more lawyers and/or law firms competing for your business by subscribing to “Jail Mail” after buying your personal information.
4. “Celebrity” Lawyers/Law Firms
Many DUI Lawyers/law firms rely heavily on emphasizing their “celebrity” status having appeared on TV during the OJ Simpson, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan cases (to name a few).
Criminal defense lawyers (particularly in LA) were literally falling all over them selves to get “face time” on TV affiliates like ABC, NBC, CBS as well as Cable News as “expert commentators”. They tout themselves as “experts” even though they never handled a murder case (OJ), petty theft, etc. and, more importantly, what does that have to do with their ability and proficiency in handling DUI’s? The answer: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They’re banking on and indeed preying on people who don’t understand the difference between being on TV and having the expertise to handle a DUI case the way it should be properly done.
5. “Teaser Rates” and How Much They Actually Charge
Some DUI lawyers/law firms offer “teaser” rates offering to handle your case for as little as a few hundred dollars but you end up paying well over $1,000 to $2,000 or more. Just for ONE HEARING.
Or that they will tell you they will represent you for a “tiny fraction” of what they usually charge including “discount coupons” offering 1/2 or more off. Yet, you still end up paying thousands of dollars even with those so-called *discounts* applied! When you add it up, their rates are actually $3,000 or more. Again, for 1 single hearing!
Bottom line: No respectable DUI lawyer/law firm charge these kind of exorbitant rates on DUI cases…unless you are a celebrity and can afford the best REAL DUI LAWYER that money can buy.
6. “Free consultation” and how much do they charge?
Many of these DUI lawyers/law firms claim you won’t be charged for an initial consultation. Yet, their paralegals, office managers or other staff take your credit or debit card information at the outset of your call and still bill you even if you decide not to retain them.
In most instances, you won’t even talk with a real attorney about the facts of your case let alone the head partner of that firm (the attorney you are being led into believing will be personally handling your case). The “celebrity” attorney you think you’re hiring charges anywhere between $900-$1,500 per hour (you read that right) and his or her junior associate (usually with only 1-3 years of experienced) is billed at $400 per hour or more.
7. “Special Appearance” Attorneys
The lawyers/law firms who use Jail Mail, teaser rates or discounts “farm out’* the actual handling of your case to “Special Appearance” attorneys who often have little to no actual experience handling Drunk Driving DUI cases (or other criminal cases for that matter) to appear on your behalf. They are a paid a flat rate (usually ranging between $50-$150) and have every incentive to get your case over with as quickly as possible and, indeed, are given instructions to do just that by the so-called “Drunk Driving/DUI specialist” you hired to represent you.
8. Ask to see the DUI lawyer’s Retainer Agreement
Ask one or more of those “celebrity” law firms/attorneys for a copy of their Retainer or Legal Services Agreement BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. You’ll see for yourself the exorbitant hourly rates they charge and that they use *Special Appearance* attorneys so you’re not getting who or what you think you*re paying for.
9. Hire a Reputable DUI Lawyer
To recap, if you see “Special Appearance” or the words that the law firm “Reserves the right to split fees with another attorney” (which means the same thing), RUN and don’t look back. Instead, retain a reputable lawyer/law firm that handles DUI cases in-house with a proven track record of success.