5. Hiring the Wrong Lawyer
There is no shortage of lawyers that hold a license to practice law who will aggressively solicit your case. The fact that you were charged is public information and if you have not already started receiving mountains of mail from lawyers, you will. Most of the letters will all say pretty much the same thing. Much or all of them will be unhelpful and some may even be misleading. Virtually none of the mail will be useful to someone who is trying to find the right lawyer for their case.
Every lawyer with a license feels they are qualified to handle your case. They are not. Reckless driving cases can be complex. They involve laws that change on a frequent basis as well as various scientific and technical issues. Moreover, how these cases are handled varies substantially from county to county within Virginia, and from judge and prosecutor to judge and prosecutor within a county like Fairfax.
Many of the lawyers or law firms seeking to represent you may fall into one of several categories:
• They are not located in the jurisdiction where you are charged, such as Fairfax. They simply recognize that Fairfax is a busy jurisdiction and think it is a good “business move” to solicit cases there. If they have a Fairfax office, is it somewhere where they actually practice law or is their real office in a different jurisdiction and they simply set up a decoy office in Fairfax to make it look like they have a Fairfax office?
• They lack real and substantial experience with reckless driving cases. They call themselves “experienced,” but in reality may only be two or three years out of law school. Or, they have “been around” for some time but have never had the opportunity to present more than a few, if any, such cases to a judge in the form of a trial and never had the opportunity to try such a case to a jury.
• They may be a firm without any significant emphasis on reckless driving cases. In fact, they may be “generalists” who do a little bit of everything, but do nothing well because of a lack of focus.
• They sent you (or will send you) an unsolicited letter blindly quoting an unusually low flat fee to handle your case without ever having had the opportunity to talk to you about the case or your background. This is a MAJOR RED FLAG. You should be very suspicious. After all, this person knows nothing about the facts or your case or your background. How can they possibly quote you a fee when they have no idea what work is required to resolve your case? Are they quoting you an unusually low fee without knowing anything about your case because they really intend to do no work on the case except to simply process a guilty plea like in every other case they handle?
This is why the Virginia rules of ethics strongly discourage the blind quoting of fees by attorneys before they have had a chance to speak to you about your case. If you call one of these lawyers and they increase their rate above what is stated in their letter, you should immediately report them to the Virginia Bar because this is unethical and the lawyer will be sanctioned. If the attorney sticks to the blindly quoted fee, you should question what you are actually going to get from that attorney. Every case is different. Yet, a fee that never changes says that the attorney is going to handle your case like every other case they have.
What a lawyer charges is, in part, a product of four things: (1) their skill and experience, (2) their reputation in the legal community, (3) the time and effort they plan on putting into your case and (4) the satisfaction of past clients. There are certainly lawyers who abuse their ability to set fees by charging an overly inflated rate. A lawyer should charge a rate that is fair and reasonable for each specific case.
Many, many people fall victim to this system. These are people who could have fared much better with an attorney with the appropriate knowledge and local expertise. But, unknowingly, they chose the lawyer who last handled a real estate transaction or immigration matter. Or, they went with a lawyer who sent them a marketing letter in the mail promising to handle their case for a rate too good to be true (without ever talking to them). Or, they just did not know who to hire. Accordingly, I have put together a list of six rules that absolutely should be followed in selecting an attorney for your reckless driving case. rules that absolutely should be followed in selecting an attorney for your reckless driving case.
Call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Kyle G. Manikas. Mr. Manikas will analyze your Fairfax case from the perspective of a former prosecutor who has an inside understanding of the Fairfax system you will face.
To request your FREE copy of Virginia Reckless-What You Need to Know fill out an online form.
5 Mistakes That Will Sink Your Reckless Driving Case Part D
5. Hiring the Wrong Lawyer