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Finding a Michigan OWI Lawyer

There is no one right way to find and hire a top DUI lawyer in Michigan but the following paragraphs highlight some of the things that you should take into consideration when making your determination.

Here are Two of the Most Important Factors When Hiring Your Michigan DUI Lawyer:

Focus of DUI Practice and Prior Results Obtained – The practice of law is just like the practice of anything else, the more you do it the better you become.  In fact, all truly great DUI attorneys handle just drunk driving cases. And because they are so focused, they get results for their clients.  When interviewing a potential Michigan DUI lawyer find out how many years they’ve done JUST drunk driving.  You may find out that the lawyer who claims “30 years of experience” has never really only handled just drunk driving, or just started doing drunk driving because they could no longer make a living doing something else.  An attorney who maintains their practice strictly DUI will likely be a far better attorney to represent you drunk driving case than those who “dabble” in all areas of the law.

Advanced Training — Don’t necessarily take the lawyer’s word for it either.  Take a close look at the lawyer’s background in DUI defense. What specialized training in breath, blood or field sobriety testing has the lawyer taken in the last year, or in his or her entire career.  Does the lawyer you are considering teach or write about these things.  True expertise is not learned in law school it’s learned at advanced seminars and through years of court room experience.

Here are Some Question You Should Ask When Interviewing Your Prospective Michigan DUI Lawyer?

Once you have the name of your top choice(s),  it is now time to interview them to determine if they fit YOUR needs. The supposed “best”  drunk driving lawyer may not be the best one for you if your personalities are not on the same page.. Because drunk driving cases are so stressful you will be forging a very personal relationship with your attorney.  Make sure the attorney you hire is not only a true expert, but one  who makes you feel comfortable as well as confident.

After you have done your research and in preparation for the interview, you should write your questions down and have them prepared for your prospective lawyer. In these questions, you should include some inquiries into the following relevant areas:

Lawyer’s Background:

Seminar Speaker – Find out if your top DUI defense lawyer candidate is a teacher to other lawyers, then ask yourself if you’d rather have the student or the teacher as your lawyer.  Keep in mind that the top attorneys in each state are asked to speak for OWI-DUI seminars in their state and others. Therefore, if your attorney has been recognized by the state and as well as other attorneys by speaking at such events, he is likely a top attorney in that area of practice.

Publications – Find out if your top DUI defense lawyer candidate has ever published in the area of DUI defense.  After all, what better way is there for a client to know if the attorney they are about to hire is reputable? Lawyers who write frequently about their area of law practice tend to keep themselves better informed about their area of specialty. Publications of such writings also help to demonstrate that the lawyer has a great command of the subject matter, and more importantly passionate about the work they perform. In conclusion, the more writings and publications your prospective attorney possesses, the more likely he is extremely knowledgeable about the topic and holds a reputable likeness of such among judges and fellow lawyers.

Educational Background – Find out where your top DUI lawyer candidate was educated both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Though the undergraduate institution or law school that your prospective attorney attended may be of no bearing to you, it is still important to know that you are hiring and licensed attorney. For such confirmation, you can go to the American Bar Association (ABA) web site to look up your attorney’s law school. If it is not listed, there could be a problem and you should be cautioned before hiring such an attorney before confirmation of his or her being licensed.

Lawyer’s Office and Practice Management

Lawyer – Paralegal ratio and Caseload – A busy, experienced DWI-DUI trial attorney will have 1 to 2 paralegals assisting him/her. Trial preparation requires more time than processing guilty pleas. A knowledgeable paralegal is worth his or her “weight in gold.” Having the proper amount of assistance in his or her office allows the attorney to focus their time on preparing you with the most adequate defense possible.

A trial attorney may limit his or her caseload to between approximately 40 and 80 cases per year. Though the Michigan Rules of Ethics permit that an attorney only take on so many cases that they can “adequately” represent, many attorneys in our state take on more than they can handle because of our states economic situation or otherwise. Be sure to gain assurance that the attorney representing you is not “overloaded” with other clients, and that they will be able to give the proper amount of time to sufficiently satisfy YOUR needs as a client.

Use of Technology – Technology has revolutionized the practice of every area of law in the legal profession, including that of OWI law. Lawyers who master technology deliver legal services with better quality and swiftness,  often utilizing the leverage of technology to deliver legal services less expensively. Ask not only how and what forms of technology they use in their office, but also ask how they implement the use of such technology in the courtroom

Promising too much – In interviewing your prospective defense lawyer, you MUST be skeptical about lawyers who promise or even guarantee success. In many instances, it can even be unethical to promise a particular result or the ability the influence such a result. This is especially true if such promises or guarantees are made during an initial interview before the full facts of your case are known. In the other articles published here, it has been overwhelmingly emphasized that the ultimate result of your drunk driving case will rest on the facts and circumstances of your case. Therefore, a thorough investigation of your case MUST be made before any discussion regarding the outcome, even those of “ballpark” range. If such promises are made before any research or investigation has taken place regarding your case, you are probably well advised to seek other representation.

Promotional Materials – Promoting ones product is an intricate part of any business, and is such as well in the practice of law. The practice of law has become flooded with such advertisements due to the enormous amount of attorneys now engaged in the practice of law. All law firms, and solo practitioners alike, promote themselves in one way or another to the public. In falling subject to such promotions, it is important for you to pay attention to a law firm’s client information package, marketing, Internet and promotional materials.

Fees and Fee Structure – Find out exactly how the DUI lawyer candidate sets his or her fees? Most drunken driving lawyers work on a flat fee basis. As you might expect, highly experienced attorneys often charge much higher fees than younger, less experienced lawyers. For many persons facing the extreme penalties of an OWI conviction, price is secondary to an excellent track record of noted justifiable results. One ex-State trooper turned DUI attorney from Louisiana, Glynn Delatte, ends each e-mail with this maxim: “Good lawyers aren’t cheap, and cheap lawyers aren’t good.” Therefore, in making the decision to hire the attorney to represent you, do not let fees be a repelling factor if you want your case diligently and zealously defended.

Engagement Letters – The engagement letter is a very important part of deciding whether or not to retain any attorney as counsel for your case. When you are client seeking representation from a prospective attorney, you should always ask to view and discuss the engagement letter. In doing so, beware of lawyers who do not put their fee agreements in writing. While this is not an absolute requirement, the rules of professional ethics in Michigan strongly encourage written fee agreements. Also, you should always read the fine print in your engagement letters (fee agreements) to make sure you understand what is covered in the engagement fee. Otherwise, when looking at the fee charged and in comparing it with what is charged by other lawyers, you may not be comparing “apples with apples.” In other words, just because the fee that is required under the present fee agreement is the same as what is required by another attorney, does not exactly mean that encompasses the entire amount you will have to pay.

Other Considerations:

Ethics – As funny as it may sound, run as fast as you can from ANY lawyer that tells you it is “okay to lie” or otherwise act dishonestly in any aspect of your case. Unethical lawyers rarely have good reputations, and this will only hurt you in the long run by possibly leaving you subject to more serious criminal charges than before you walked in the door. Judges never forget lawyers that try to “pull one over” in their courtrooms, and usually treat such attorneys as such. In contrast, Judges rarely forget those attorney who are ethical in representing  proper deference and respect for the court in the past. All in all, the importance of hiring an ethical lawyer, who has a reputation for being such, cannot be understated.

Personality Compatibility and Communication – At the end of the day, a lawyer’s “bedside manner” can mean a lot to how the overall attorney-client relationship unfurls. The number one complaint against lawyers in this country is not poor work quality, but rather failing to properly communicate with their clients. You are paying a lot of money to hire a lawyer, and as such it is your right to expect to be kept informed of developments and have your calls and e-mails returned in a timely manner. Find a lawyer who really cares about zealously defending you with a winning attitude, while also remaining realistic about your level of expectancy regarding the outcome of your case. In the end, the ultimate question you should ask yourself is, “Is this the attorney I want spearheading my defense?”

Conclusion

Though all of the above items are of significant importance, the most important of all is that you feel comfortable with the attorney you decide to hire and his ability to defend your case. The process of resolving a drunk driving charge can be time-consuming and stressful. Hiring the right defense attorney for you, one you are comfortable with on a personal level as well as professional, will undoubtedly help relieve some of your stress and concerns regarding this already difficult time.

Hiring a Top Michigan DUI lawyer is the first thing you should do after being arrested for drunk driving in Michigan.