Internet Marketing for Lawyers – Advice That Counts

Lawyers face the same challenges any business does. In order to get new business they must market their services, i.e., advertise. And lawyers deal with the same marketing and advertising challenge every business does – how to beat the competition. Plus lawyers have to assume that any Internet or non-Internet marketing or advertising they do may well produce little or no results for the amount of time and money they spend — regardless of what an outside marketing or advertising advisor may say to the contrary.

Prior to the Internet the main non-Internet marketing option or advertising choice for any lawyer was to advertise in the yellow pages. To this day the print yellow pages contain plenty of colorful, one page display ads that feature lawyers offering their services, and lawyers pay a lot for these ads. How effective these ads are is anyone’s guess — it’s hard for your colored, one page display ad to stand out when you have 20 other lawyers doing the exact same thing! The yellow pages companies, however, continue to promote their marketing and advertising philosophy that “bigger is always better” and “everything we sell is an opportunity,” so they often present a lawyer with a non-Internet marketing and advertising solution that costs plenty but often produces little.

This line of thinking, along with the use of print yellow pages in general, has gone the way of the dinosaur at a very accelerated pace. The yellow pages in print form had their heyday for many decades, but the population now goes to the Internet for the information they seek, so most print directories are collecting dust. A lawyer who advertises in the print yellow pages may well get calls, but they’ll most likely be from vendors using the yellow pages as a cheap source of leads.

The major paid search providers (pay per click search engines) tend to offer lawyers Internet marketing and advertising solutions in a manner similar to the way the yellow pages do with their print directories. “Bigger is always better,” so rather than realistically discuss with a lawyer a pay per click Internet marketing and advertising campaign that makes financial sense and produces a decent ROI, the pay per click providers will tell the lawyer to go for as many top listing keywords (the most expensive) as their budget will permit and bid as high as they can. The lawyer may go broke in the process, but at least they’ll get exposure! Many lawyers get into pay per click as a quick way to get leads but quickly exit a month later after spending lots of money for Internet marketing and advertising results that produce nothing but expense.

While pay per click Internet marketing and advertising is the running favorite of Internet marketing advertisers worldwide, pay per click advertising for a lawyer is usually an extremely expensive proposition for what they get. How much a lawyer is willing to “pay for a lead” takes on a whole new meaning with pay per click. The cost per click for many lawyer related keywords, e.g., “personal injury lawyer,” “criminal defense lawyer,” can range from $5.00 to $70.00 per click depending on the market, and when the typical lawyer’s conversion rate (the number of clicks it takes to generate a lead) of one to two percent is factored in, the lawyer can find themselves paying upwards of $500.00 to $7,000.00 per lead, and a lead is not a client.

Part of the problem lawyers face when they work with pay per click (and this translates directly into poor conversion rates) is that (1) they spend little time creating their pay per click ads and (2) the ads direct traffic to the lawyer’s website. Any Internet marketing professional who knows something about pay per click knows you never send pay per click traffic to a website. Instead you create special pages, i.e., “landing pages” for pay per click traffic to be directed to. The landing pages perform the job of convincing traffic to do what the lawyer requires, which is normally to contact the lawyer via e-mail or by phone.

Legal Internet directories and portals offer the lawyer a potential Internet marketing and advertising option because of their popularity and enhanced Internet visibility. How effective a listing in a legal Internet directory or portal can be for a lawyer in terms of marketing, advertising and Internet exposure will depend upon the particular attributes of the legal Internet directory or portal in question. All things being equal, legal Internet directories or portals that charge a fee to be listed in them make more sense as an Internet marketing and advertising choice than similar sites that offer listings for free. The lawyer has to be particularly careful, however, when they consider advertising in legal Internet directories and portals that “look” like they offer a lot — and a price to go with it — but for whatever reasons simply do not produce enough leads for the amount of Internet marketing and advertising money the lawyer must spend.

Many legal Internet directories and portals exist that have a very strong Internet presence, and they are excellent resource centers for lawyers, but this does not automatically make them good places to advertise. With Internet legal portals especially it’s not how many lawyers the portal attracts but how many people the Internet legal portal attracts who are searching for legal services. People have paid thousands of dollars for advertising in Internet legal portals that have produced nothing in the way of Internet marketing and advertising results. A very wise idea for any lawyer who considers advertising in an Internet legal portal is to get some very accurate user demographics on what kind of specific traffic the Internet legal portal is actually attracting.

What is a lawyer supposed to do? Everywhere the lawyer looks, whether the marketing and advertising media is Internet or non-Internet, considerable financial risk is involved, and a guarantee that the lawyer will get good, solid results for the amount of money they spend is often hard to achieve.

Ultimately the best way for a lawyer to go with Internet marketing and advertising – the way that will ultimately get them the best long term results for the money they spend — is to focus on getting their website to rank high in organic search results. When all things are considered, people on the Internet who search for goods and services mainly search for websites to find their answers. They may look to legal Internet directories and portals, and if they don’t find what they want they may turn to pay per click listings as a last resort (only about 30% to 40% of users bother with pay per click) but ultimately people who search the Internet are looking for websites that provide them with the answers they seek.

If a lawyer is looking for an Internet marketing and advertising solution that doesn’t require being part of the pay per click crowd, the lawyer may want to look into pay per phone call programs. Pay per phone call is like pay per click, but the lawyer does not pay for a call unless they receive one. And the costs for pay per phone call are normally substantially less that what the lawyer will pay for a click in many cases. A smart lawyer may even want to consider getting involved with several pay per phone call providers with the idea that between the providers the lawyer will receive enough leads in the aggregate to make involvement with these programs worth it.

Many of the Internet marketing and advertising solutions that a lawyer chooses to look into must be tried on a case by case basis. Absolutely nothing can be assumed. A pay per click advertising campaign that works extremely well for the lawyer with one search provider might fail miserably with another.

One last thing that a lawyer should be aware of when it comes to the Internet and a website presence is that appearances really do count. Many people have been on the Internet for 10 years and have correspondingly seen websites of all types and styles. People are used to seeing professionally designed websites. The lawyer’s website should be too.

How to Find a Lawyer – Some Useful Tips

In any complex legal problem and especially one that involves a lot of money, it is good to have a lawyer. Apart from dispensing information, lawyers offer the much needed advice and apply their skills to all legal problems. There are many lawyer firms out there but that does not mean that all lawyers are good. In fact, finding a lawyer who is able to help well with a particular problem is not an easy task. A good lawyer serves as the client’s legal coach and he/she goes an extent further to educate the client on all legal technicalities involved in the case.

If you are looking on ways how to find a lawyer, then you need to be a little bit more careful on your selection. However, the facts below can help you a great deal.

Through Personal Referrals

It is in your best interests to talk to a person or a group of people who have gone through the same ordeal as you so as to find the best lawyer. For instance, anyone who has a sexual harassment case should talk to a women rights group and ask them who their lawyers are and if they can help with the case. Talking to about five people will eventually provide very good leads.

However, it is important to make a decision that is not solely dependent on other people’s recommendations. A decision should not be made until you have met with the lawyer and felt comfortable working with him/her.

Through Online Services

There are many online services that connect with local lawyers on different locations and depending on the type of legal case that one might have. All that is needed of the person looking for a lawyer is to answer a few questions about the case and then give his/her contact information. After that is done, the right lawyers for the case contact the customers directly.

Through Business Referrals

Businesses which provide services to lawyers and lawyer firms can provide very good links to finding a good lawyer. For example, someone interested in a good small business lawyer will need to talk to his/her insurance agent or accountant. These people make regular contact with the lawyers and are therefore able to make judgments that are informed.

Through Lawyer Referral Services

Lawyer referral services offer a very good platform for anyone wondering on how to find a lawyer. These services list only screened attorneys who have the most attractive qualifications and a given amount of experience.

When looking for a lawyer, it is also important to look for one who is a specialist in that particular type of case as opposed to a general practitioner. Although a specialist lawyer charges a little more, his/her knowledge is truly valuable. Lastly, it is important to interview the lawyer personally.

Lawyers in Thailand are in most cases willing to meet face to face for the first time between thirty minutes to 1 hour at no charges. This is the best opportunity for the client to size the lawyer up and make an informed decision.

Workers Compensation Lawyer Proved Employer Had Every Reasonable Opportunity To Get Information

A workman’s compensation lawyer knows how an injured worker may need to borrow money or have help from family during their injury. In the following case, an employer tried to use these sources of money to wrongly stop benefits payments… and the employee’s workman’s compensation lawyer successfully stopped the employer from misinterpreting these deposits into the employee’s savings account. The hearing officer in the case agreed with the workers compensation lawyer, and made a finding that the injured worker was entitled to supplemental income benefits (or SIB’s) even though he did have some additional money (loans from his parents), and also a little self-employment. The insurance company appealed this decision, claiming to have gotten evidence to prove their argument… “after” the hearing was over, stressed the workers compensation lawyer. The injured employee’s workers compensation lawyer then successfully defeated the insurer’s arguments.

Workers Compensation Lawyer Defended Right To Part-Time Self-Employment

The workers compensation lawyer answered the insurer, saying the hearing officer correctly decided the injured worker was entitled to SIBs. The insurer’s real argument, the workers’ compensation attorney pointed out, was that the injured worker “could have worked more,” and claimed he didn’t make a good faith effort to get work, based on these “extra” deposits. But the workers compensation lawyer stressed very detailed medical findings of a serious disability.

Besides, the workers compensation lawyer noted how the hearing officer was the most important judge of the evidence. The hearing officer heard all the evidence from the workers’ compensation lawyer and from the employee himself, as he told the workers’ compensation lawyer about the injury and his job search. As the trier of fact, the hearing officer clearly agreed with the workers’ compensation lawyer about the strength of the medical evidence. Based on evidence presented by the workers’ compensation lawyer, the hearing officer reasonably decided the injured worker (a) was not required to get additional employment, once the workers’ compensation lawyer proved employment at a part-time job and (b) was being self-employed, consistent with his ability to work.

Workman’s Compensation Lawyer: A Serious Injury With Lasting Effects

The insurance company also argued the injured worker’s underemployment during the qualifying period wasn’t caused by his impairment. The workman’s compensation attorney noted the injured worker’s underemployment was also a direct result of the impairment. This was backed up by evidence from the workers comp lawyer that this injured employee had a very serious injury, with lasting effects, and just “could not reasonably do the type of work he’d done right before his injury.” In this case, the workers comp lawyer showed that the injured worker’s injury resulted in a permanent impairment. The employer didn’t prove (or disprove) anything specific about the extent of the injury, the workers comp lawyer observed, but only suggested “possibilities.”

Employer Was Stopped From Use Of “Confusing” Evidence By Workman’s Compensation Lawyer

For example, the workman’s compensation attorney said the insurance company emphasized “evidence” obtained after the hearing. Yet the insurance company said this came from a deposition taken three days before the hearing. At that time, the workers comp lawyer pressed, it learned that the injured worker had a personal bank account for depositing wages. The insurance company subpoenaed copies of the injured worker’s deposit slips, and got the records after the hearing from the workers compensation attorney. The insurance company argued that the deposit slips “proved” that the injured worker earned more than 80% of his pre-injury wages. But the workers comp lawyer stressed how the insurer should have worked harder to prove this argument before the hearing.

Specifically, the workers’ compensation attorney pointed out that documents submitted for the first time (on appeal) are generally not accepted… unless they are newly discovered evidence, noted the workman’s compensation attorney. The evidence offered by the insurance company wasn’t newly discovered evidence, proved the workers comp lawyer. The injured worker testified to his workman’s comp lawyer that the deposits included wages from his self-employment and “money I borrowed from my mother.” The evidence didn’t, proved the workers comp lawyer, show how much (if any, noted the workers comp lawyer) was deposited from the injured worker’s wages versus how much was from borrowing. Though the insurance company had known about the evidence, it made no request to get the evidence, emphasized the workers comp lawyer. Nor, concluded the workers comp lawyer, did the insurance company ask for the hearing record to stay open for evidence once it was received… which, the workers comp lawyer stressed, they had a right to have done. The Appeals Panel agreed with the workers comp lawyer and “refused” to consider the ‘evidence’ attached to the insurance company’s appeal. The workers comp lawyer had completely defended the worker’s award.

There’s often uncertainty about how long an injury may last, an experienced workers comp lawyer knows. In this case, talking with an experienced workers comp lawyer helped deal with issues from this uncertainty. For anyone who survives a period of injury, through self-employment or family loans, it’s important to discuss these matters as soon as possible with a knowledgeable workers comp lawyer.

Strategic Defaulting

Mortgage payments have become a serious problem for many Americans. The current economic crisis has proven to most that the importance of the housing market cannot be underestimated. However, a new trend has developed that limits the permanence of mortgage agreements, making the process more dependent upon a person’s willingness to continue payments instead of facing financial destitution. Known as strategic defaulting, a debtor may purposefully default on a loan payment, triggering foreclosure precedents.

While many would try to avoid foreclosure at all costs, a devalued property may not be seen as worth the future mortgage payments. Especially in the current market, as property values are dropping rapidly in certain areas, the original mortgage may be seen as too much of an expense compared to the actual value of the property.

As there are obvious benefits to cutting a mortgage early, there are also the same penalties as if the default were unintentional. The largest problem with intentionally ending a mortgage early by failing to pay is the harm that defaulting can do against someone’s credit rating. As credit rating determines the probability of getting future loans as well as details such as the interest rate, maintaining a good credit score should be a high priority for homebuyers.

Depending on the analyst, it may be considered morally wrong, although not always legally problematic. In reality, financial situations can become seriously dire without drastic action if a home devalues at an alarming rate. Given the current economy, dipping home prices are not only common, but can be strongly downward.

There are multiple strategies a person may consider if facing even greater financial woes. While penalties for strategic defaulting or bankruptcy can be stiff, the benefits may actually outweigh these issues.

Safeguard Your Rights – Hire a Skilled Lawyer

It can be very tough and intimidating for a person who has never come into any sort of a contact with the police or courtrooms. This can cause immense trepidation and worry to ourselves and the people intimately concerned with us.

If someone does become accused of a crime, it would be only natural for such a person to freeze-up or temporarily lose sight of one is rationality and senses. It is at this time that an experienced criminal defenses attorney can help maintain one is calm and help them focus at the task at hand – defending he or she against the charges for which they are accused. The criminal process can prove a confusing legal maze, but an experienced Minneapolis Criminal Attorney can help guide you through that maze. The Minneapolis and Minnesota Attorneys and Criminal Defense Lawyers believe in safeguarding their clients’ rights. There are many attorneys conveniently located and many of the Minnesota and Minneapolis Criminal Lawyers offer 24-7 support and feedback.

There are many types of crimes for which one may be accused. These may be vast and each can carry its own set of complexities. One of the most commonly charged crimes is DWI i.e. cases related to drunken driving. An individual charged with such a crime needs to be well acquainted with all knowledge and facts about drunken driving. One needs a lawyer instruct them about possible penalties, the potential for jail or imprisonment, financial charges, court fees, procedures, legal documents, legal permits, special rights called the Miranda Rights etc. Other crimes include Domestic Violence or Assault, Embezzlement, Drug Sales or possession, Probation Violations, Sex crimes such as child molestation, rape- forced and statutory, sex battery, internet pornography, prostitution, Felonies, Misdemeanors cruelty towards animals, DWI, possession of marijuana, etc., theft, shop lifting, vehicular homicide due to road rage or otherwise, and many more.

All of the above stated crimes require strategic planning with a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney who will have the know-how and skill to best represent and protect your rights. If you are being investigated for a crime or have already been charged with a crime, you should immediately consult with Minnesota Criminal Lawyer in order to safeguard and protect your rights!

How to Find a Professional DUI Lawyer

DUI or driving under the influence is classified as a very serious crime in all states of the U.S.; however, the conviction for DUI in some states may have serious consequences that can change one’s life seriously. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, you must know the effect of this crime. It can be time in jail, hefty fines, loss of your driver’s license, community service, and difficulty keeping or looking for a new employment, ignition interlock device, vehicle impoundment, and higher insurance premiums or dropped coverage, restricted international or interstate travel. Well, sad to say, you only have a limited time to get a DUI lawyer and request with the court to avoid confiscation of your driver’s license after you got arrested and the worst thing you can ever do is to do nothing or even to delay the procedure of looking for DUI attorney to help you clear your DUI record.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand their rights fully and because of this, they are unfairly charged. The conviction of DUI in your permanent record is such a life-changing event and you should not take this lightly. It is important that you have an experienced, strategic DUI attorney to guide you during this difficult process. Therefore, the best thing that you can do is to quickly find a professional and experienced DUI lawyer.

Meticulous defense and expert legal can actually save you and help you clear your DUI record. Not everyone who has been charged of DUI is actually guilty of this crime. Definitely, finding a professional DUI lawyer can be your best decision. You should take your violation seriously because its complicated effects can actually affect your future. An experienced DUI attorney can help you extremely in keeping your driving privileges, reduce your bail, or assist you in acquiring a release under his recognizance. Read on and learn how to find the best DUI layer in your state.

1. Find a lawyer with specialty and expertise in DUI, with great experience and positive results in DUI cases he handled before. A very good DUI lawyer understands clearly how a DUI conviction could affect your life and fight aggressively all the way to obtain the best outcome possible.

2. A good DUI lawyer will not charge you for his consultation. He will ask you questions and try to understand what really happened and would want to know all the important details of your DUI charge.

3. After reviewing your case, he will tell you his opinion about your DUI case, possible problems, and will explain to you all your obligations and rights.

4. Finally, your DUI attorney must be open to the fees and costs associated with a DUI case.

How to Talk to a Lawyer For Legal Advice For Law Questions

Talking to a lawyer to get legal advice can be a daunting task. Lawyers can be short in their conversation, stern in their tone, and pointedly direct in their questioning. This can intimidate even the boldest of the bold, but it shouldn’t. A little understanding of lawyers helps explain why they act the way they do. Here is a bit of this explanation and some tips for talking with lawyers about legal questions.
Be punctual and flexible

Lawyers earn their living by selling their time. At any given time, any one lawyer will usually have multiple projects for multiple clients. Time spent waiting for a client to arrive, is time lost. This usually happens when the lawyer is not able to begin working on another project if the client is expected to arrive any moment. This directly impacts the law firm’s earnings if he is not able to spend the time working on another project.

Given the high expenses lawyers must pay (such as legal advertising costs, expert costs, legal research costs, etc.), lawyers are very sensitive to time issues. This is particularly true for lawyers who spend a lot of time in court, as litigation lawyers spend their days trying to meet strict deadlines. The courts often sanction lawyers for missing deadlines. Lawyers are used to this treatment and they may have the same expectations for clients.

Punctual clients are good clients. This means clients who arrive early, who are patient, and who are flexible. This also means clients who promptly call to reschedule meetings. This courtesy allow the lawyer to plan out their day, which makes them more profitable and more effective at their craft.
Be prepared and organized

Lawyers spend their time researching, writing, talking with others about legal issues, and talking with prospective and actual clients about legal issues. The first four tasks are often time intensive and viewed by lawyers as being mandatory to achieving appropriate legal results in cases.

One might think lawyers would love to spend hours talking with and billing clients for providing legal advice rather than doing the legal work, but this may not be the case. There is a balancing act whereby lawyers are expected to deliver results, and spend time with clients explaining the law. The attorney who spends too much time talking with clients may he has too little time to work on delivering the desired result. This puts added stress on lawyers.

Thus, unfortunately, talking with clients is often viewed by the lawyer as a distraction. This is especially true if the client is not prepared to discuss their legal questions when they meet with the lawyer. Clients should review the facts and any evidence they have prior to meeting with their lawyer. This also means having any documentation in order and ready to be reviewed. This will help the lawyer communicate effectively, yet briefly. This too makes the lawyer more profitable and effective at their craft.
Expect to be asked hard questions

Lawyers are also officers of the court, in addition to being businessmen. The lawyer needs to find and prosecute meritorious claims. This helps the lawyer earn a living and build a solid reputation. As lawyers filter prospective clients and client claims, it is often necessary for the lawyer to ask the hard questions. Client sensitivities should be set aside if at all possible. This can allow the lawyer to get to the heart of the matter and craft defenses or strategies for any harmful or difficult issues from the start. It is often better to discard void legal theories up front, so the lawyer can focus on the pertinent legal theories that will produce the desired results. Clients who are prepared to answer these difficult questions up front can prove to be invaluable in this regard.

Conclusion

These tips should help clients discuss any legal question with their lawyer. A little understanding of why the lawyer is the way he is and common courtesy can go a long way in dispelling any fears about talking with lawyers.

Gary operates LawFiles. LawFiles is a free legal advice forum where attorneys answer free legal questions submitted by users. It also provides free legal information, law-related tips, legal news, and free legal forms. Legal topics covered include criminal, family, employment, business, tax, estate planning, intellectual property, real estate, and other law-related topics.

Lawyers – What to Look For When You’re Seeking a Lawyer

Searching for a Lawyer

What is a win in Canadian law? It could be a reduced sentence, bail release, time served included in sentencing, serving time on weekends, and plea bargaining. It can also mean being found innocent of wrongful charges. When your future is at stake, having a good Canadian lawyer to represent you against the crown’s charges or a suit brought against you, could mean saving your life.

If you’ve been charged and unprepared, you may think that a court appointed lawyer might be good enough. For suits that involve relatively low money amounts, such representation might suffice. If you’re charged with a DUI offense or assault charge, facing a divorce, or have been fired for no just cause, the consequences of a verdict against you may be ruinous. You need to take your time and find a lawyer who can present your case clearly and convincingly.

If you have a legal issue, you might be tempted to look online where you could find legal services that use a 1 800 line similar to those used by sex talk lines. This is probably not a good idea. The advice you get could send you off on the wrong tangent with contact with shady legal service providers. You should get a lead to speak to a real lawyer. Most services will want to get some info about your case, so don’t be shy about telling them. You’re probably in a hurry, but when speaking to a lawyer, there are key things you need to cover.

If you’re fighting criminal charges, or are threatened with the loss of your drivers license and being fired from your job, it makes sense to look for a reputable legal referral service. The price might be higher, but this is no time to go bargain hunting. You get the service pay for, so free might be the last solution you want.

Hiring a Lawyer

After you’ve been charged by police, you should not say anything more than you would like to confer with your lawyer. Remember that anything you say will be used against you. It’s standard practice so don’t doubt it. You could end up being your own worst witness. Prosecutors can interpret your words any which way when you’re in court. You’ll be horrified when your own words end up convicting you.

Hiring a lawyer early in the action against you can affect whether a criminal charge will be laid, whether you can achieve bail or a release pending the completion of the case against you, the quantity and quality of evidence collected by the police, and the quality of defence strategies you could use. Once you set sail on a particular legal defense, it may be impossible to change.

Your bail hearing is particularly important. If you are held in custody, there will be no way for you to assist in collecting evidence and testimony to exonerate you. It won’t take long for you to discover whether a lawyer can and will represent you well. Some of things you need to consider are:

> Does this lawyer practice this particular type of legal case you face?

> What is his experience and background in this particular area?

> What legal resources does this lawyer have access to?

> Does the lawyer show/explain he has listened to you and understands your case and questions?

> Has your lawyer discussed the charges against you with you?

> Has your lawyer discussed how the criminal justice system operates?

> Has your lawyer discussed what he hopes to do for me and my case?

> Will this lawyer keep you informed of what is and has taken place?

> Has the lawyer discussed fee structures and how your fee will be calculated?

> After discussing the case, do you feel confident of this lawyer?

> Is this lawyer truly interested in representing you?

> Can you reach this lawyers easily or is he always busy?

A few organizations have launched a lawyer review process but rating lawyers competence is difficult and sometimes not done in an objective way. A lawyer with a good winning record with few tough situations to handle in his cases might get a good rating, while others who have handle really tough cases might get a lesser rating. The human factor always comes into play in assessing a lawyer.

Ideally, what you need is a reliable lawyer referral service that takes care to contact and work with good quality lawyers with particular expertise and specialization in the legal areas that you will be involved in. When a referral service demonstrates its in-depth connection to particular law firms, it is a good sign of integrity. These firms may have a website with information on them that helps understand your situation and show they have the resources, knowledge and experience to help you.

Since your first experience in working in the Canadian Legal System is likely to be confusing and awkward, you need to work with someone you trust and who can devote the time to represent you well. A low cost or free legal service is always suspect because the lawyer won’t have time to research, prepare and represent you well.

How To Find A Criminal Defense Lawyer With 7 Key Questions

You can’t believe it’s happening to you. There’s a pit in your stomach as the cop starts coming toward you and utters the words “I’m arresting you for a criminal offense.”

Your mind starts racing with thoughts like ” What in the world am I going to do? How is this going to affect my life, freedom, family, job? What can I do to protect myself? How do I decide on the right lawyer so I have the best legal help possible?”

Regrettably, this crisis is a possibility for anyone. Innocent people are charged with crimes as a result of many different circumstances, such as honest mistakes, or overzealous, or malicious actions by others. Good people also make mistakes and choose the wrong course of action in a difficult situation.

Whatever the case is, you sure enough need the best representation you can get.

All of a Sudden Nothing is More Important

You realize that a conviction will have ruinous effects on your life so it’s important to seek the best attorney you can afford, whether you need an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer (my state) or one who can represent you in another state of the U.S.

And even though you are “under the gun” to hire someone, this decision must be made with care. After all, if your life was threatened in a medical emergency, such as needing brain surgery, you probably wouldn’t want the cheapest doctor to perform it. Moreover, you shouldn’t choose an attorney based on who charges the least. At the same time, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire the most expensive person.

How Are You Supposed to Pick a Criminal Defense Attorney, then?

Should you hire your brother-in-law’s estate planning lawyer, or the attorney who handled your high school friend’s divorce? What about going to the yellow pages and picking the lawyer on the first page of the attorney listings, or the law firm with a two page ad?

I don’t advocate any of those methods for someone charged with a criminal offense. The problem is that just because someone went to law school and passed the bar exam, that doesn’t mean he or she is effective and experienced in criminal defense. Many have never set foot in a courtroom.

All Lawyers Are Not the Same

In the medical field there are doctors who specialize in certain parts of the body and so, too, many lawyers concentrate on just a few areas of the law. There are just too many types of law for someone to be an expert in every area.

Think of it this way. Do you really think that someone who spends most of their time writing and negotiating contracts for businesses would be as effective in the courtroom as a lawyer with decades of experience in criminal law?

What’s more, when you hire an expert, you have to expect that the cost is going to be higher than hiring someone else with only a moderate amount of knowledge or experience.

That leads us to:

7 Key Questions to Find the Right Lawyer for your Criminal Defense

1. The first question to ask would be simply, How many years has the lawyer practiced criminal law.Someone with a fair number of years of experience, such as 10 years or more, would be preferred. Your future is too important to hand over your defense to a new law school graduate.

2. The second question you’ll want to learn the answer to will be how many trials has the lawyer handled. This is important because your lawyer should be familiar and confident with the process. There are some so called “criminal lawyers” who rarely, or never go to trial and are known as “settling attorneys”. Many times they aren’t comfortable in trials, and even if it isn’t best for their client, they find a way to settle without going to trial. The prosecution can sense that fear of going to trial, which can have a detrimental effect on possible plea bargaining for the client. Definitely, a lawyer who has tried 50 to 100 or more cases will maintain a stronger bargaining position.

3. Another thing you should determine is the number of jury trials the attorney has handled. Additional areas of expertise are needed in jury trial with facets like selecting jurors, and knowing how to be persuasive to jury members. As you can probably guess, more experience with jury trials is better than less. If your lawyer has handled 40 or 50 jury trials, he or she should have learned a lot about strategy in that area.

4. While you can certainly ask a potential lawyer about his or her experience, an even better way to determine that is is through a reliable certification process. Some states recognize specializations in different areas of law and if a lawyer qualifies according to the state’s requirements, he can reflect that specialization in his marketing and advertising materials. However, many states don’t allow specializations (including my state of Oklahoma). Fortunately, there is a national certification available through the National Board of Trial Advocacy This is a very rigorous certification process, requiring significant experience in criminal trials, a written exam, peer review and recertification every 5 years.

If a lawyer has achieved this certification, you have an unbiased third party validation of her experience, instead of having to rely simply on what the lawyer says about her ability.

5. Something else you should ask about is how and when the lawyer will communicate with you. Use the first consultation (which is often free, however be sure to ask ahead of time) to assess whether you will be comfortable and confident handing your case over to this person.

6. Make sure to ask if the lawyer you think you are hiring will actually be the one who is handling your case. This is important because some firms will have you talk to a lead lawyer initially and then give your case to a newer lawyer in the firm to handle. I believe a criminal charge deserves an experienced and seasoned lawyer, not someone just out of law school.

7. Ask about the costs involved. Find out whether the lawyer charges an hourly rate or a flat fee. Obviously, it is better for you, the client, to get a flat fee. That way you know exactly how much you need to pay as opposed to being concerned that the lawyer is trying to string things along in order to increase his fees. Also, determine what is covered in the flat fee, such as does that fee cover fees for a trial or will there be additional costs for that?

Remember if the lawyer’s fee is much lower than others that it could be a red flag.

A much lower fee can mean he is not as experienced (not good for you), or he may handle a high volume of cases. The problem with the high volume situation is that he won’t be able to spend as much time or attention on your case (also not desirable) as the lawyer who takes fewer cases but charges more.

I’ve also known of attorneys who entice clients by stating they will only charge a small amount such as $100.00 to go to court for you. However, they don’t mention that you’ll have to continue to pay them for every phone call or each document they do for you. And, pretty soon the total expense can be higher than a set fee charged by someone else.

A lower fee could also indicate that the lawyer is the “settling” kind of lawyer as I mentioned before, who won’t go to trial even if its in your best interest. And since he knows he won’t ever be going to trial he can charge less, as trials involve significantly more work.

I believe these questions will allow you to become informed in this important decision making process so you can find a criminal defense lawyer who will skillfully protect your rights and freedom.

So Your Business Has a Legal Problem – 8 Useful Tips on What to Expect From Your Lawyer

As a business owner, you are usually run off your feet with the challenges of operating your business. The last thing you need to worry about is a legal problem. Many business people put off dealing with a legal problem because they don’t know where to turn, don’t have the time, or most often, are afraid of how much it will cost and how much time it will take.

Legal issues come in many forms:

· A customer failed to pay an account despite many promises. · You just received a letter from a government agency. · You just found out that your former manager has set up a competing business and has stolen your best customer and one of your key employees. · You have just been sued for $100,000. · Someone told you that one of your standard form contracts won’t stand up in court and you are worried about it. · You have a dispute with your landlord. · You have a problem with a US or European customer. · Your business has been defamed on the internet. · You just found that your warehouse manager has been sexually harassing a female employee. · An employee is damaging your business but threatens to sue if you fire him. You are not sure how to handle it. · You are involved with a Workplace Safety Insurance claim.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of the kinds of legal issues business people run into frequently.

Tip #1 – Seek out legal help at the first sign of a problem

Suppose a competitor has been passing off its business under your name and it’s costing you customers and sales but it’s hard to estimate the amount. Unless you act promptly, it may be too late to seek an injunction from the Court. If you think you have a claim against another party under a contract, a limitation period begins to run from the time the contract is breached and usually expires two years later. It’s not a good idea to leave the claim to the last minute.

If you have an issue with an employee who is working unacceptably, it’s important to develop a legal strategy as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more it may cost your business.

The short point here is that it is important to seek advice as soon you detect a problem and before anything has been done to make it worse. Crisis management is always more expensive and time-consuming than early response.

Tip #2 – Have a team of lawyers to call on when you need them.

Every business should have a team of on-call lawyers. This is less expensive or complicated than it sounds. All you need are the telephone numbers and email addresses of trusted corporate, employment law and litigation lawyers. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need an intellectual property lawyer, who deals with trademarks, patents and copyright. You may even need a tax lawyer because not all tax issues can be solved by an accountant.

If the amount of your legal dispute is very small, such as a claim or complaint by a customer for $1,000 or less, it will be uneconomic to hire a lawyer. Fortunately, there are other helpful resources. The BBB has a dispute resolution process which permits BBB businesses and their customers to resolve disputes by arbitration or mediation. You don’t need a lawyer and the only cost is a small administration fee. More information about this process is available on the BBB website.

If your case is in the Small Claims Court ($10,000 or less), you might need a paralegal who specializes in these kinds of cases. Paralegals are now regulated by the Law Society but they are not lawyers and they are not a substitute for an experienced lawyer.

Tip #3 – Learn what to expect when a dispute arises.

As a business person, you have learned that success is often the result of building relationships. The relationships you build with your lawyers can be just as important to your business success as the ones you have with your customers, suppliers, banker and insurance broker. A relationship with your lawyer built on mutual trust and respect will save you many sleepless nights over the years and probably make or save you a lot of money.

There are several ways to find good lawyers for your business:

Ask business associates or relatives if they have someone to recommend. If you get a recommendation, find out more about the firm and the lawyer by using some of the research methods below. · The internet is a very useful resource for finding a lawyer but you have to be careful. Any lawyer can list with various online legal directories. Anyone can have a flashy website. You have to move past the flash to find the substance.
When looking for a lawyer on the internet, look for someone who has experience in the field you require. The first name on a Google search may not be the best choice. Some lawyers have written extensively about the law. This is a useful indicator of expertise and standing in the legal community.
Some lawyers list cases they have been involved in on their websites. Broad litigation experience in complex business matters over many years is a good indicator of competence.
The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario, Canada) has a lawyers’ referral service. The service provides a name but you have to check the details out yourself. · The Law Society certifies specialists in several areas of practice. Certification as a specialist signals that the lawyer has achieved a higher standard of experience in his/her area but certification isn’t mandatory. Many competent lawyers have long experience in a field without applying for certification. You have to decide if this is important to you.
· If your problem is outside Ontario, find a local lawyer first. Many firms have networks with lawyers globally and are able to refer to lawyers in the USA or other countries. Refers between colleagues are often more effective.

When you call, don’t expect the lawyer to solve your business problem over the telephone. The first discussion is for the lawyer to identify whether s/he can represent you and for you to assess whether the lawyer appears to have the skills to deal with your problem. If you have a legal problem the lawyer believes his/her firm can resolve, an office meeting will be arranged.

In business matters, lawyers customarily charge a consultation fee for the first office meeting. At the meeting, the lawyer will give preliminary or urgent advice and develop a go-forward strategy. The lawyer may be able to give a partial fee estimate and will ask for a retainer to cover some of the work. No lawyer can guarantee the outcome. At this early stage, there are usually a lot of unknown matters. While the lawyer may be able to give you a partial fee estimate in a litigation matter, it’s impossible to say with accuracy how much it will cost. It depends on too many unknown factors.

It will be then up to you to decide whether or not to hire the lawyer to represent you further. The decision you make will depend on your sense of confidence in the lawyer. Has the lawyer listened to you? Have your questions been answered? Does the lawyer appear to understand your problem? Has the lawyer presented the risks and downsides of your case? Every case has risks and costs. Beware of a lawyer who tells you only what you want to hear without assessing the strengths of the opposing party’s case.

Some lawyers will accept a monthly or annual retainer which entitles the client to telephone advice a few times a month. More complicated issues require separate engagements.

Tip #4 – The least expensive lawyer is unlikely to be the best person to handle your legal problem

Consider this scenario: you are looking for a lawyer for a complicated lawsuit. You call Mr. Jones, who answers on the first ring. You tell your story, which has many facts the opposite party disputes. Mr. Jones says, “You have a great case. I’m sure you’re going to win.” When you ask how much it will cost, Mr. Jones says “Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay me anything unless you win. Just come on down to my office and we’ll get started.”

Beware of any lawyer who tells you this. While Ontario lawyers are permitted to charge their fees based on contingency, i.e. a percentage of the result, this type of fee arrangement is only rarely applicable in business cases. It never occurs when facts are in dispute, recovery is uncertain or if the amount is small.

When you retain a lawyer, you need a trustworthy advisor, who will point out the weaknesses of your case as well as the strengths. A litigation lawyer who is waiting by the phone for your call and tells you exactly what you are hoping to hear may be too hungry or too inexperienced to manage your case. He may be in over his head and will bail out as soon as your case takes a negative turn. By then, your legal situation may have worsened. It will be more expensive and perhaps impossible to repair it.

Even worthwhile cases require careful analysis and risk assessment. An experienced litigation lawyer will typically do his by for fees on an hourly basis plus GST and any out-of-pocket expenses necessary for your case.

Good litigation lawyers are often in court, at mediation or other litigation procedures, at meetings or discovery. However, good litigation lawyers always call or respond by email within 24 hours. In case of urgency or vacation, the lawyer will arrange for someone in the office to contact you.

Tip #5 – Prevention is better and much less expensive than litigation.

Legal problems are like computer crashes — they are bound to occur, it’s just a matter of time. Unlike computer crashes, some lawsuits can be avoided. Often, businesses owners deal with legal matters only when a crisis arises. They look for the least expensive lawyer to draft their leases, contracts, corporate and employment agreements without regard to skill, competence and experience.

Sometimes, business owners avoid legal steps like failing to make a shareholder agreement, failing to file a trademark application or failing to prepare a non-competition and non-solicitation agreement with a key employee. When served with a lawsuit, they ignore or tear the papers up in anger. These business owners will be caught short when the inevitable occurs. While litigation or arbitration may still occur when there are written agreements in place, you will be in a far more secure position if you have taken precautionary steps before the dispute occurs. If you respond to correspondence and legal papers promptly, you will be better protected than if you ignore them.

Competent legal advice is available for matters such as corporate organization, leases, the wording contracts and other documents you use in your business, partnership and shareholder agreements, your relationships with your employees, your company’s trade names, logos and website, your regulatory compliance, your risk management and litigation prevention techniques. It’s all important to arrange legal affairs to ensure that your personal liability is limited in the case of a claim against your business.

Ensure that the legal issues affecting your business are in good order. This is likely to save you a lot of money and grief in the future. You might even consider having a legal audit or a “business legal checkup”. We plan to write about this topic in a future article in this newsletter. Preventative legal advice may be expensive but it is just as important as fire insurance.

Tip #6 — Don’t assume that ‘going to court’ means ‘going to trial’

If you haven’t been involved in litigation before, you may not appreciate that more than 90% of cases settle before trial. While a trial (or even an appeal) is not always avoidable, lawyers use techniques to try to resolve cases at earlier stages. Business people are looking for certainty and to limit expense and exposure.

It’s never a bad idea to negotiate a settlement with the opposing party but the timing and approach will depend on the case. It is best to negotiate from a position of strength. This may mean holding off negotiations until enough facts and documents have been disclosed to favour your position.

Mediation is another technique lawyers use to achieve settlement before trial. Mediation involves a neutral mediator, who is usually an experienced lawyer, acceptable to all parties. The parties and the lawyers prepare briefs to explain their positions to the mediator. On the mediation date, after an opening session, the parties retire to separate rooms. The mediator will “shuttle” between the parties until an agreement is worked out or an impasse is declared. This process produces a high rate of settlement even in very complicated cases.

Tip #7 – Understand the risks of the litigation process: Why do lawyers emphasize settlement?

Even if you have an airtight case, your lawyer will still recommend settlement. Lawyers assess risk every day. Even the most airtight case could have problems at trial. The judge may prefer the evidence of the opposing party over yours. The other party’s expert witness may be more persuasive than yours. These are just two of many possibilities. A trial is always a last resort.

Another good reason to settle is that even if you win at trial, the case may not be over because

The legal costs awarded by the court to a successful party are only a partial recovery of the legal costs payable to your lawyer. · If you lose at trial or if the opposing party does better in court than their settlement offer, you will have to pay a portion of their legal costs. · There may be an appeal which could delay payment for two years or longer.
Until a final judgment is granted, a defendant is rarely prevented from dealing with his property – unless the property is the subject of the lawsuit (or some other exceptional situations).
The judgment may be unenforceable. The opposing party may be insolvent or go bankrupt. You might not collect anything. · The defendant may conceal his assets or transfer them to family members to make the debt difficult to collect. A separate lawsuit may be necessary to find the defendant’s assets or to declare the fraudulent transfer void.
The defendant may have assets outside Ontario. A lawyer in the jurisdiction where defendant’s assets are located may have to be retained to collect the judgment.

A settlement involves a resolution both parties can live with. If the case involves the payment of money, there won’t be a settlement unless payment is made.

Even with these concerns, some cases can’t be settled. The positions of the parties may be so far apart that a trial is necessary. As the case progresses, you and your lawyer will have to revise and update your strategy and estimate the legal cost and risk of each stage of the case. Keep in mind that the opposing party is dealing with similar risk assessment and cost issues as you are.

Tip #8 — Be a good client.

From a lawyer’s perspective, a good client is a business person who does the following:

Presents all the facts of the case fairly without exaggeration or deception. Tell your lawyer everything; not just the facts that help you. The rest of the story always comes out and usually with adverse consequences. · Considers the lawyer as a trusted advisor and advocate.
Has a well-organized set of relevant documents.
Provides other documents and information promptly when requested.
Accepts that every case has weaknesses and works with the lawyer to develop a strategy to minimize the weaknesses.
Recognizes that the lawyer cannot guarantee the outcome but can only provide effective advocacy to produce the best result, often as a result of negotiation or mediation.
If an examination for discovery or trial is required, takes the time to prepare to testify.
Asks for clarification on all matters that are unclear.
Understands that in litigation matters, it is impossible to predict the fees accurately but that the lawyer will gladly provide estimates of imminent steps in the case.
Pays retainers when asked and settles interim accounts promptly when rendered.
Considers the lawyer’s recommendations carefully and provides reasonable instructions.

One of our firm’s clients is a technology business which started as a family operation and has grown to the point that its brand is now accepted and recognized globally. Our client’s president knows hows to get the most out of his professional advisors. He is always respectful, trusting of professionalism, intelligence, experience and competence. He is prompt in responding to requests for information, appreciative of good advice and excellent service. He works hard but he usually has a happy and cheerful attitude.

Our client expects is professional advisors to have the same enthusiasm for their work as he does for the operations of his business. And another small matter: our client pays every professional account within 48 hours of receipt. He believes that if he had to challenge his lawyer or accountant’s bill, the professional relationship is not a healthy as it should be. Our client expects fair treatment, excellent service, sound advice, creative strategy, experienced advocacy and determined, no-nonsense negotiations. And he gets all of them in spades! A lot of business people who are dissatisfied with their professional advisors could learn a lot from him.

These tips offer no assurance that your legal matter will turn out exactly as you expect. However, by following our suggestions, the resolution of your business dispute is likely to be a less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful experience and possibly more successful. Keeping your business legal affairs in good order permits you more time to focus on making your business flourish.