"Things are slow" It's almost the required response these days to the question.
As most criminal defense lawyers go, "business development" or "practice management," are things we ignore, except to complain about. We can talk to a client about their case, read case law, and argue in court, but the business side of the practice is something we either do terribly wrong, or think we are doing right.
Either way, I find criminal defense lawyers complaining about the same things - chasing (non) payment plans, clients choosing other lawyers for the wrong reasons, and a complete lack of interest in the concept of doing something else besides going to court, going to the office, and going home, every day.
We'll jump at the chance to go to the 20th seminar we've been to on the topic of cross examination and expert witnesses, but won't spend 5 minutes in a room full of our colleagues learning about having a better practice.
One of my priorities this year as President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is to turn some attention to our private practitioners. The majority of our members (as I assume most criminal defense associations) are private practitioners in practice over 10 years. We spend a great deal of time on indigent defense issues, death penalty issues, filing amicus briefs in important cases, and hosting seminars on the nuts and bolts of criminal law.
Now it's time to offer some help to the criminal practitioner who goes to work everyday and in addition to practicing law, has to buy paper for the copy machine, pay a secretary, advance costs for clients, and comply with trust accounting rules.
The perception that all private lawyers are "rich," is a joke, and if our private members can't keep the doors open, we lose. Society cannot continue to rely more and more on underfunded public defender offices to take on more cases then they can handle. We need private practitioners, and we need to provide continuing legal education that helps private practitioners (and those that want to be private practitioners - you're welcome to attend as well) learn something else besides the latest junk science. If you have no clients, stuff like that won't matter.
So I invite all criminal defense lawyers to come to Miami Beach October for an all day seminar devoted to something we spend little time discussing - The Practice.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Post to Twitter
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