How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer: Or How I learned not to let a random internet list pick my lawyer.( Part 1)

Friends:

It’s not always easy to know how to find a criminal  defense lawyer. There is no perfect method. This series presents some  factors that you might want to consider when trying to find  a Criminal Defense Lawyer.

First of all, why are you looking for a criminal defense lawyer?

Presumably, you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer because either you or someone you care about has been charged or is under investigation  for a crime. So this is a serious matter. Your liberty or your loved one’s liberty is at stake. There is nothing more serious.

Given what is at stake, it makes sense to do your homework.

Probably the most time-honored method of finding a lawyer is through a personal referral. If your best friend’s liberty was saved by a lawyer,
then that will naturally carry weight. If you don’t have a personal referral then you will likely end up turning to the internet to find a lawyer.

The internet is a useful tool, but your brain is a better one. No matter what you read on the internet, including this blog, trust your own intellect and common sense.

Internet Searches and The Meaninglessness of Whose Name Comes up First.

Many people do internet searches to find a criminal defense lawyer.  Probably most people enter search terms like ” Houston Criminal Defense lawyer” or ” Harris County Criminal defense lawyer” Lawyers are aware of this. So lawyers, myself included, use key words in their website in an effort to have their name appear at the top of the heap.

Why do we want our name to show up at the top of the heap? Because,  if we are at the top of the heap,  it is far more likely you will call us. If you call us before you call other lawyers, it is far more likely that you will hire us.  It is simple advertising. People often hire the first or second lawyer they encounter; but that can prove to be a very costly mistake.

The fact a lawyers’ name may show up first in an internet search of ” Houston Criminal Defense lawyers”, means nothing about that lawyer’s ability to defend you.
The fact a lawyer’s name comes up early in the heap does not mean that lawyer is better than lawyers whose  names appear later in the heap. There is NO Correlation between where a lawyer’s name happens to pop up, and his or her  ability as compared to other lawyers. The order in which  lawyers’ names appear, should never be mistaken as a rating system of the lawyers. The order in which lawyers’ names appear, when you do an internet search is not a rating system.  The order in which lawyers names appear is no reflection on the respective qualifications or experience of the lawyers listed.

So dont hire a lawyer  just because their name comes up early. Higher a  lawyer because they are competent and  because after doing your homework you have found that lawyer meets your needs. That lawyer may be the 1st lawyer whose name pops up or they may be the 40th lawyer whose name pops up.

If a lawyer’s name consistently pops up at the top of the internet heap, at most it may mean that lawyer is good at marketing himself, and that’s about all it means.

So before you pick the first name that pops up, you may want to ask the question:
Am I looking for an entrepreneur who is good at self promotion or am I looking
For the best lawyer I can get to defend me?

If you use the internet to find the name of a criminal defense lawyer, don’t let Google choose the lawyer for you. The fact Google lists lawyers in a certain order, is no indication about the lawyers’ ability. In finding the right lawyer for you, don’t rely on some random order that Google provides.  That makes about as much sense as picking a lawyer because his last  name begins with an “A” and he appears first in the phone book. (Google also sells placement. So don’t let the fact a lawyer has paid for a premium listing cause you to pick that lawyer. The fact a lawyer has paid for a premium listing has no correlation to that lawyers abililty).

Lawyer websites are a form of advertising. As you read or skim over them, remember this. Remember also, that if it sounds too good to be true, well then it likely is too good to be true.

Website designs can vary a great deal. Some are high tech and look more like the intro to a Vegas show. Some portray the lawyer as some larger than life mega-star.  Some websites are so over the top, you will have a hard time telling if you are looking at a lawyer Website or watching a preview for the next “Oceans Eleven” movie.

When looking at a lawyer’s website, try not to be too distracted by all the bells and whistles. Look for things that count, things that might actually reflect on the lawyers ability to provide you with the zealous representation. Sometimes you have to cut through all the baloney to ascertain who the lawyer really is.

In the next installment in this series, I will give you some specific tips of what to look for in evaluating  a defense lawyer.
For starters… Make sure the criminal defense lawyer is in fact a  criminal defense lawyer and not a “pretend criminal defense lawyer “. More on that in my next post in this series. In the meantime, good luck.

Robb Fickman
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About Robert Fickman

Robert Fickman is a criminal defense attorney with 33 years experience in defending the citizen accused in both state and federal court. He is a past president of HCCLA and remains active in its mission.

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