A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hints You're Not Getting Hired As Criminal Defense Counsel

After practicing in this world of criminal defense for over a decade, I know the typical clues that indicate you are not getting the case. You know them - potential client calls and the first question begins with "how much do you charge," or the client comes to your office and says "money's not a problem (translation: broke).

Here's some new hints and tips I've developed recently:

[1] Never quote a fee on a Friday. By Monday, they'll have a cheaper lawyer.

[2] If you get a call from a relative (cousin, boyfriend, etc), don't spend more than 3 minutes on the phone. Trust me, 4 other people are looking for lawyers for this client.

[3] Always call to confirm the appointment. If you get a voice mail within 2 hours of your appointment, they're not showing up. You can leave your office and go do something else.

[4] Any non-juvenile who claims they need to make the appointment at a time their parent can come, and then shows up without them, is wasting your time. They can't afford you, regardless of what you charge.

[5] Unless it's your family member or best, best, best friend, NEVER show up to court to represent anyone on the promise of future payment, unless you're ok not getting paid.

[6] Potential clients who are having trouble finding your office, do not have the funds to hire you. I don't know the correlation, I just know this to be true.

Any others out there?
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com


  1. Anonymous3:50 PM

    1) If a potential client calls to re-scheduls an appointment but doesn't want to re-schedule that day, you will never hear from them again. 2) If a potential client leaves your office after the initial interview and hasn't paid a retainer on the fee, you will never see them again. 3) If a potential client wants detailed advice over the phone, he is really checking up on the lawyer he has already hired and doesn't intend to hire you. 4) If a potential client is more interested in suing the police for violation of his rights than he is of defending the charges he was arrested for, he isn't hiring you. 5) Even people referred to you by satisfied clients want to know how much you charge so they can compare your fees to other lawyers they've talked to.
    On the other hand, never take on a client that wants you to discount your fees. They will not pay you in full and demand much more from you than those that do pay. These are nightmare clients. Nothing you do will be good enough. Get rid of them as soon as possible. Better yet, don't take anyone who wants you to discount your fees. There are enough "cheap" lawyers out there who will take low fees, make big promises to get those fees, and then plead them out. Their excuse always is that facts arose that the client didn't tell them about.
    Practicing criminal defense in Chicago is tough. You shouldn't be in it for the money, but you have to make a living. I want to make a great living. The only problem is too many lawyers, and too many potential clients who are looking for bargains. What the potential client doesn't realize is that the "cheap" lawyer can't give them the time their case deserves because they need more cheap cases so they can make money. The problem is how to educate the potential client of this. In Illinois there is a Supreme Court Rule prohibiting denegrating other lawyers to get a case. Any suggestions out there?

  2. My experience:

    1. If a client is not interested in coming in very soon... probably not worth your time.

    2. If someone is asking about a "free consultation"... waste of time.

    3. If a potential client asks if "you take payments"... waste of time.

    4. If a client asks how many years of experience you have... wast of time.

    5. If a client EVER uses any kind of legal jargon or tries to, words like continuance, fiduciary, ex parte, you must run as fast as you can from that client.

    6. If a client tells they were researching at the law library, again... you must run as fast as you can from that client.

  3. "I'm calling for some information" means "I'm calling to find out how much you charge" which means "The chance that I can afford you or any other decent lawyer is minimal."

    "I'm calling for my fiance" means "I'm calling about my boyfriend's case. He's in serious trouble. He never committed to me until after he got arrested, but now he's promised to marry me so I have a stake in trying to get him out of jail."

  4. Portia Bettis1:41 PM

    Wow. These are dead on.