Thursday, July 19, 2007

Federal Criminal Lawyers Vs. State Criminal Lawyers

I wish the title of this post could be something different, but this is where we are.

I practice in state and federal court. About half and half. I began as a state public defender and my federal experience is gained from working with other federal criminal lawyers, not from being a former assistant united states attorney or federal defender.

I am not a "federal lawyer." A self-proclaimed "federal lawyer" is someone who only practices in federal court (with the exception of many of them who you can find tripping over themselves in state court when "indictments are down.") There is a group of "federal lawyers" who have no use for "state lawyers," and I think it's time to have this discussion. Mainly because I'm getting tired of the bullshit.

I do not bemoan anyone for their type of practice. I am not a "DUI lawyer," "ticket lawyer," "death penalty lawyer," "white collar lawyer," or "federal lawyer." My practice is mixed.

I am a "criminal defense lawyer."

I am tired of you "federal lawyers" looking down on all your brothers and sisters in the defense bar. What is so special about you? Why are you so much better than someone who goes into court and defends someone against state or municipal government?

And I'm not talking to those of you who will respond with "I don't look down on other lawyers." I'm not talking about you.

Why are some of you so convinced you are such great lawyers?

There are so many reasons I bring this up.

Specifically, yesterday, an email went out from a defense lawyer looking for a "DUI Lawyer" in another city. The responses from the "federal lawyers" was referrals to a former AUSA who probably has never been to state court, and to a legendary mafia lawyer.

What is it with some of you "federal lawyers" who think every single case needs to be referred to a "big" "federal lawyer?" I know, your answer is that you were referring these lawyers so they could make the proper referral. They can't, trust me. It's not just yesterday either, I see this all the time. Someone asks for a referral for a small state case, and recommendations come in for big Washington firms, or the white collar guy at the big firm who spends all day reading, I'm sorry, having other people read, documents.

Maybe if you took the time to learn about some of the other lawyers who also practice criminal defense, even though it's the criminal defense work you wont get your hands dirty with, you would be referring clients to the proper lawyers, or just staying out of it out of respect for "the rest of us."

Part I.

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