The following recently appeared in the "legal" section of the "jobs" area of craigslist for Northern Virginia:
Criminal Attorney Needed (Fairfax). Criminal attorney needed for multiple cases. First case is tomorrow morning in the Fairfax County Court House. Please contact me asap for details of the case.
Imagine that you are the client who has paid good money to this attorney. You were probably under the impression that the attorney was working on the case and preparing for that big day in court. Instead, what you did was hire an attorney with no regard for you, or any client for that matter. The attorney is so disorganized and overwhelmed that he resorted to placing an ad on craigslist for any attorney - regardless of experience, regardless of their knowledge of the type of case to be handled, and regardless of background. To make matters worse, the attorney wants the new hire to show up the next day to handle a case! No preparation, no research, nothing. Meanwhile, your future, reputation, and possibly job are on the line. What is sad is that if this client happened to be you, you probably would never know given that so much of what happens in court occurs behind closed doors, outside of your presence. This is an incredible breach of trust and is indicative of a lawyer that treats the practice of law purely as a business.
While this all may sound frightening, there are attorneys who do this on a regular basis. In fact, they may have many clients. Why? Because they are good marketers and present an image through their website and direct mail that is very different than reality. No attorney that works like this is going to tell you that because you would never hire them. The attorney is going to present a very different image - what you want to see. However, what you see may not be what you get.
To reduce the chances you fall victim to this, READ the following: