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How to shop for a criminal defense attorney

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Three tips to find the right lawyer for your case

Finding the right criminal defense attorney in Columbus can be tough, especially when you’re short on time. One of the most common questions prospective clients bring is how to shop for the right attorney. There are several factors at play when deciding who to hire, beyond a good track record. When you’re looking for a lawyer, you should get a good referral, do your research and sit down with him or her before ever setting foot in a court room.

1. Get a good referral.

It might sound cliché, but in this business, reputation is everything. Always ask for referrals from friends and family that you trust before setting up an appointment with an unfamiliar attorney. While awards and ratings say a lot, it’s the first-hand experiences of those close to you that can be truly telling of an attorney’s professionalism and work ethic.

2. Do your research.

Established lawyers will have current ratings and affiliations listed on their website. This could mean a Super Lawyers profile, a Martindale peer review or an Avvo rating. You should also look for professional memberships, like the Ohio Bar Association, Columbus Bar Association and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. You should also search for awards, relevant news articles and cases won and lost. Combining a reliable referral with the backing of peer reviews and professional affiliations can help give the big picture of whether you want to work with someone.

3. Sit down with the lawyer.

In the internet age, we often rely only on what we read online.  We hire various professionals based upon online research all the time.  But the decision to hire an attorney, particularly a criminal defense attorney, requires more than faceless, online research.

In the old days, we got to know people by meeting them.  We had coffee; we had lunch; we had office meetings.  But nowadays everyone wants to do things the quick way.  While that may be ok for some things, it’s not good enough when you are putting your most serious, personal problems in someone’s hands.

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If at all possible, a face-to-face meeting with a criminal defense attorney is a must.  Get to know the attorney, spend some time talking about experience and background, and talk about your legal problem.  Most criminal defense attorneys provide a free consultation.  At Yavitch and Palmer, we do this for a reason.  We want to make sure our clients are comfortable with us before they hire us.

A criminal case, particularly a serious one, can last many months, or even years.  The attorney-client relationship is far more personal than other professions.

Even if the attorney comes highly recommended and has great peer reviews, the fit may not be right.

We’ve heard of attorneys arranging to meet clients for the first time at the courthouse when the case is scheduled for a first hearing.  Sometimes, due to a time crunch or other logistical issues related to work, travel, etc., this is unavoidable.  But some attorneys do this routinely, even when there is plenty of time for an office consultation.  The problem is that a client can feel trapped under the pressure of the last minute decision. There may not be adequate time to get to know the attorney.  And even though they may not feel comfortable with the attorney, the client may feel like they have no choice because the case is scheduled and they have to have someone there.  It’s too late to find someone else.

We stress the importance of meeting in advance if at all possible.  And even if not possible, we will always set a meeting as soon as possible after the court appearance.

You always have options.

Many clients don’t realize they still have options even when their case has already kicked off. You might need to find someone fast, but you’re not locked in. Once the dust settles, the real criminal defense attorney search can begin.

When you seek legal advice from Yavitch & Palmer, we’ll fully explain the legal process surrounding your case. After your consultation, you will have a true understanding of the charges and the consequences you face. And to avoid confusion, you will be notified in writing of all required court appearances. The attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer work as a team, collaborating to bring more than 20 years of collective experience to building a strategy for your defense.

When you have been charged with a crime, retaining a skilled criminal defense lawyer from the start is vital to your case. Call Yavitch & Palmer at 614-224-6142 or via our Web contact form to arrange an appointment.

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