Chapter 6 - Criminal Defense

Some attorneys just cannot see themselves doing criminal law while others can. It is not necessary to do criminal law in order to build a good practice. On the flip-side, some "criminal- law only" practices are fairly lucrative. The main point here is that criminal law is in demand. DWI's, drug offenses and minor assaults are extremely plentiful. Yet, there are many attorneys who vie for these cases. Remember, the goal is to get enough business to average two billable, collectible hours per day. Criminal law might not give you all that, but it can help. For some attorneys, criminal, by itself, will supply them with more than this two hour/day goal.

The beauty of criminal law is it is considered virtually "paperless." No thick files or boxes full of documents. No discovery. A very bare-boned pre-trial procedure. In fact, it is such a stripped-down area of law that flat-fee arrangements are very, very common. The work- load in these types of cases is far more predictable than in other court-based practices. That said, it seems most criminal attorneys take on these cases, knowing they will run the defendant through the typical process of arriving at a plea bargain.

While the practice often requires this standard protocol because the clients are often guilty and everyone knows it, there are frequently cases where a diligent, competent criminal defense attorney can actually "do right." Though they tend not to, criminal attorneys should conduct research as much as civil attorneys. This research will pay-off. Many times, mens rea is an issue that could be diligently and successfully argued, but some of the more sluggish practitioners simply do not care to bother with it. Which is likely to get better referrals?

  1. He got me probation.
  2. He got me off.

When the second guy refers his buddy, you now have much better ammunition to justify a bigger retainer or fee. Still, in a great many cases, you do not have the luxury of getting an outright dismissal, and even the guilty criminals appreciate probation a lot more than jail. Criminals (even your decent folk who just happen to get a DWI) often hang around others with similar habits. These clients, once you represent them, are great sources for referrals.


2015, Jeff M