People frequently ask me what my fee is. Sometimes it is the first question they ask. I understand that it is important, especially in this economy, to be discerning about how we spend our money. However, if the first thing out of the mouth of a potential client is “what do you charge?” it is clear they have missed the point.
1. Reckless driving is a serious offense: Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor offense that carries the potential for jail time, high fines, and if convicted it gives you a misdemeanor criminal conviction for the rest of your life. My point is that it is a serious offense.
2. Not all attorneys are the same: I have personally witnessed a “low-price firm” that offers a “low-price guarantee” send a new and inexperienced associate into court and that attorney incorrectly advised the court that their client faced a mandatory ten days in jail for a driving charge. The information was completely wrong, but the attorney did not know the law. Guess what the client got? Ten days in jail, and all because of that attorney’s malpractice.
That is an extreme example of really poor representation, however it is not uncommon. I recently had a discussion with another attorney who mentioned how poorly one particular low price firm represents clients because the new attorney they sent to court essentially bad-mouthed the firm’s own clients and had no idea how to present a case to the judge. Sometimes attorneys represent clients with bad driving records. But there is a good way to present bad information, and there is a bad way.
If you have a bad driving record, there are things you can do to minimize the consequences and improve the chances of getting a great result. It is often the difference between getting a conviction and getting a reduction. The problem is that when you offer a low price guarantee (without even knowing what someone’s driving record looks like) you are advertising that all cases are the same when they are not. Judges do look at driving records and they do convict people even at low speeds if the record is bad. Firms that charge really low fees need to make up for the low fees with high volume. So the question becomes, is the new and inexperienced attorney who actually goes to court putting more time and effort into the cases that require more time and attention?
3. Not all cases are the same: In some cases (because we have a tough judge or the record is terrible or the speed is so high) the best way to proceed is to try the case. I have won the last four cases I tried for reckless driving with bad facts because I found a legal defense for my clients. In one case the client had more than five recent convictions. Another client was driving 96 mph and insisted he was driving 75. The last two were driving 28 mph over the speed limit with a judge who had a rule that at 25 mph or more over the limit he would convict. Interestingly, after I plead two clients Not Guilty and successfully challenged the radar that policy changed. The judge will now reduce some cases over 25 mph.
If you represent enough clients you will have to try a case. By that I mean you will have to plead a client Not Guilty and actually put on a full blown trial. I have never witnessed a firm with a low price guarantee try a case. In general I have seen them send new attorneys who do not know what they are doing into court to “defend” the case. What that tells me is they are not looking for legal defenses like calibration issues and radar issues.
I promise to charge a reasonable fee for my services, and that fee includes full representation and responsive service when you deal with me. When you call, you will speak to me directly and not a paralegal or assistant. I will honestly and fully advise you of the best way to proceed. And I promise NOT to offer a low price guarantee, because I find that a low price guarantee often equates to a low quality guarantee based on what I have seen in court.