Choosing a DUI Lawyer: Six things to consider
Here in Tucson, police engage in aggressive DUI enforcement. Lot’s of people get cited or arrested for a variety of DUI offenses. All come with mandatory jail time, and can result in a criminal record that could affect careers.
The decision you make about which lawyer you hire may be the single most important decision you make in the case. Here’s a few simple things you should consider when making your choice.
1. Take your Time
Typically, in DUI cases, especially misdemeanors, the cases move slower than you think. If the police issued you a notice of suspension for 90 days or one year, you have 15 days from the date of the incident to request a hearing. That’s probably a good time frame. Some lawyers will help you make that request whether you hire them or not. You may want to ask the lawyers you meet if they would help you do that.
If MVD is taken care of you can always go to court for your initial appearance and ask for more time. All judges will give it to you. In that way, especially in misdemeanors you have more time than you might think to make your decision, almost a month.
2. What real credentials do the lawyers have
There are a lot of accolades out there, both real and imagined. Some lawyer websites boast credentials that were paid for. We get solicited every month with a new “award” for our work. The only problem is you have to pay a fee to get it. In the world of DUI’s it’s rampant.
There’s a few, three in particular, tried and true credentials, none of which charge for their listings: Best Lawyers in America®, Martindale-Hubbel® A/V ratings®, and US News® America’s Best Law Firms®
Listings in any of these big three are highly competitive. You can’t buy these. Lawyers spend years or decades hoping to be listed in these. Once listed, it means the lawyer really has garnered the respect of the bench and bar, the legal community, and has arrived at a high point in his career. You might inquire whether the lawyer is listed in any of these.
3. How Many DUI jury trials have the lawyers themselves completed
The hard experience of actual DUI jury trials can’t be beat. The misdemeanors last usually two days, the felonies a bit longer. You might inquire as to the attorney who will be trying your case as to the number of DUI jury trials actually completed. Most lawyers keep track of exactly how many jury trials they have done, and know which ones are DUI trials. They will know.
4. Have the attorneys ever served as DUI Prosecutors
There’s lots of good lawyers out there who have never served as prosecutors, but those who have served as DUI prosecutors in particular usually have truly exhaustive DUI jury trial experience and have handled thousands of DUI’s. They also have a view from the other side of a DUI. It is often a distinct advantage, especially if their track records are good. You might inquire about that.
5. Academic Credentials
Law school rankings, Law Review membership, law school identity, academic appointments as law professors or adjunct faculty, and academic awards, all often indicate important intellectual achievements, intelligence, drive, and commitment to criminal justice. You might ask for a copy of their resumes.
6. Does the firm Engage in a lot of Advertising
Finally, marketing is a reality for most law firms, especially those handling DUI’s and other criminal cases. But firms that market excessively often have higher volume, lesser reputations, and may not be the best fit for you. No one wants to hire a firm only to find out that they are considered a “mill.” You might inquire, by taking a look online, and elsewhere, as to how much advertising or other marketing they actually engage in. You might also ask as to which lawyers will be actually handling your case.
You want to hire the highest quality attorneys with the most integrity, the strongest firms, the best reputations. These few simple inquires might help you make your decision.
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About Michael Harwin
Michael’s skill and experience have been recognized repeatedly. He holds an A-V 5/5 preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been named one of the top lawyers in Arizona by Southwest Superlawyers, and one of the best lawyers in Tucson by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. He also has been named one of the best lawyers in the United States by BestofUS.com , and given the highest rating possible by AVVO, 10/10 Superb.