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It was forty years ago today that I was sworn into the Bar, which is the way we lawyers describe the ceremony of acknowledging that we will strive to uphold the Constitution and the laws while representing our clients.  The vast majority of those 40 years has been spent representing my clients who are being investigated for or even prosecuted in federal court for alleged criminal activity.  While a lot of time has passed, some things remain the same.

This morning when meeting with a client I remembered one of the things that has not changed in 40 years.  Clients who come to see a criminal defense lawyer are almost always scared.  Some do not show fear, others are overwhelmed, all are in stress.  I remembered that one reason I still love my work after four decades is that I get the chance to help someone in a stressful situation.  I am not always successful, but I always try to make my clients lives just a bit better as they go through the stress of an investigation or prosecution.  Obviously, winning the case us the best stress reducer of all!

Another thing I remember today is how clients need to know they can trust their lawyer.  A different client followed my advice recently and entered a guilty plea.  I had won an earlier case for this client, so he trusted my judgment and advice already.  Today’s case turned out well, he likely will not have a criminal conviction after a couple of years because of some changes in the law, and his decision to trust my advice led to this positive result.

Another day here in Atlanta, and another high-profile federal criminal case in the newspaper.  Although most of my work is doing federal criminal defense here in Atlanta, in Rome, Georgia (where the case in today’s paper is being handled) throughout Georgia and the rest of the country, I want to be clear: I am NOT involved in the case described in the attached article.  However, seeing the case got me thinking about advice for people who need to hire the very best federal criminal defense lawyer for themself, a family member or for a loved one.  Here are six thoughts and tips.

First (and last), experience is the key.  I’ve written and spoken to groups in the past about this, but it cannot be over-emphasized: federal criminal defense is a speciality.  Many truly excellent criminal defense lawyers are not skilled or schooled in the intricacies of handling a criminal case in federal court.   These otherwise very good attorneys are at a disadvantage when their client gets indicted by “the Feds.”  So, tip #1 is that clients and their families should make sure that the lawyer they are considering has a lot of experience in handling federal cases. Continue reading

Oh weary reader, whether here in Atlanta, throughout Georgia or anywhere else in these United States.  You know how I go on about various aspects of federal crimes, criminal defense, criminal appeals and post-conviction matters, and the job of being a criminal defense lawyer.  Today I want to talk about what happens when a person is thinking about changing the criminal defense lawyer who is currently representing them.

I fortunately get many calls from people about their criminal cases.  Some want a little free advice, some are looking to hire an attorney for the first time, and some are dissatisfied with the way their current attorney is handling the matter.  Here and here are posts I have published on questions that clients might want to ask when first deciding on whether they should hire a particular criminal defense lawyer.   Continue reading

Well, it’s Monday, and the phone is ringing (thank goodness) with calls from people who over the weekend decided that they or one of their loved ones REALLY needs a good federal criminal defense lawyer.  I am always glad to talk with people about actual or potential federal criminal cases, whether the matter is here in Atlanta, up in North Carolina (where the first caller’s case is from), New Hampshire (this morning’s second call) or somewhere else in the country where I sometimes go to help my clients.  When I had a few moments later today, I decided to put down some thoughts about this process and questions that people should ask lawyers (and themselves) when trying to decide whether to hire a particular federal criminal defense lawyer.

For starters, the first is not always the best.  Just because the first lawyer sounds good (or actually returned your call), that does not mean this is the right attorney for your case.  Also, clients need to remember that lawyers are like many doctors, we sometimes specialize.  Potential clients need to remember that just because an attorney calls him or herself a “criminal defense attorney”, that does not mean that this lawyer is the best fit for your case.  As I’ve written and spoken about on numerous occasions, there are many excellent attorneys who work in the State Court systems but who rarely take federal criminal matters.  There are many reasons for this, but potential clients facing a federal case likely are better served with someone who does federal cases as the majority of his or her work. Continue reading

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