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

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Practice of Criminal Defense Law

I recently met with a majority of the Past Presidents of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) where a discussion erupted about the "way things used to be," and the way they are now.

The "older" lawyers spoke of a time when criminal defense lawyers had no sentencing guidelines to argue over, there were a small number of criminal lawyers in the community in which they live, and criminal defense lawyers were more willing to fight for the rights of their clients, not so concerned about the "business" of practicing law.

Now, some say, the newer breed of criminal lawyers are less passionate about rights and the constitution, much less willing to "fight" the government whether it be in state or federal court, and are more concerned about paying overhead.

I see this.

I do not advertise, send out letters to people who get arrested offering my services, or walk in to court hoping to g-d I don't get "caught" in a trial. When I started on my own, I built my practice on referrals. It was difficult. My friends were doing "mailers" and getting clients at a nice clip.

I see many young lawyers practicing criminal law because they view it as "easy," and it can be a good "cash flow" type of practice, unlike Personal Injury. There is not a small group of criminal lawyers here in Miami, there are hundreds, and we eat our own when it comes to getting cases.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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. I don't think I'll ever advertise. Why? I don't need to as a PD. I think it is funny how many clients say that they want to hire me, or that when I get more experience I'll make lots of money. I always tell them that they will just have to be unlucky enough to be accused and get me appointed.

    The pressure of making money off clients would make me uncomfortable. I prefer to treat the law as a profession, not a business. I am paid well enough, far more than my clients ever see. I don't need to drive a luxury car to be proud of what I do or happy with my life. Actually, I think I would be as sad to never be able to want a trial because of how expensive it would be! I am sympathetic with those privates trying to make their money, but I just wouldn't want to join them because of how having all that overhead would affect my practice. Even if I can meet many guilty clients who are very wealthy so that I can subsidize going to trial with the innocent clients who are poor, the temptation is always to go for more and more money.