No one ever comes into our Daytona Beach or DeLand offices excited to be hiring a lawyer. Usually they are scared, possibly injured, and incredibly emotional. For most, it is a brand new experience that they have only seen in TV shows or movies—both of which are known to bend the realities of the legal process.
Sitting across the table from an attorney you have just met, you will be asked deeply personal questions about a traumatic experience. Then, you have to make a decision which will impact the rest of your life: to hire the attorney to represent you, or to not hire them. To make matters worse, it is very difficult to compare attorneys to each other. There is no other “shopping” experience like it.
Here are of the top five reasons hiring a lawyer can be hard and how to choose the best attorney for you:
Previous generations of Florida lawyers felt that advertising was unseemly, and passed rules against it. Of course, it helped that those lawyers were already successful and probably preferred no competition.
As times changed, the rules about lawyers advertising in the state were relaxed. But they are still strict. For example, for a limited time, Florida lawyers could advertise the results of their cases. Unfortunately, the resulting billboards and TV ads from a few lawyers drew so much scrutiny that the rules have now been changed back.
It should be noted that Florida is more restrictive than other many other states; the “awesomely bad” ads with flaming sledgehammers and rapping lawyers would never be permitted here. Presently, attorneys are challenging the Florida Bar restrictions in federal court, fighting for the First Amendment right to commercial speech which would cover even “awesomely bad” commercial speech.
Personally, I would let the marketplace decide if an advertisement is effective or in bad taste. I believe consumers are smart enough to decide for themselves and do not need the Florida Bar to safeguard them from lawyer advertising.
Effective advertising would let consumers know facts about their attorneys, their past results, and give lawyers a chance to inform consumers about the quality and nature of their services. Since it is difficult and expensive to advertise legal services, many lawyers just give up. The result is that the public only sees a few mega “brands” and may miss out on finding the lawyer that is most perfect for them.
If you need to hire an attorney, friends and family are not a bad place to start looking for recommendations. That being said, it may not be easy to ask the people close to you about your legal issue. If that's the case:
Search engines like Google are a great place to start. Once you have a few names, see if you can find reviews. Check local news websites and search them for the attorney's name—maybe they have handled a few high profile cases.
If you have time, I always suggest people go to their local courthouse and ask any Deputy Sheriff working there who they would recommend. Or, if you already have a list of names, ask a Deputy about the attorneys on your list. Courthouse staff see all the local attorneys and know which ones get great results.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few choices, make appointments and meet each of the attorneys in person. Look around their office—is it busy and vibrant? Is the staff energized? Are they professional?
I am proud to say that when you come into our main office in Daytona Beach, you will see an office we have devoted a lot of love to. Our office is decorated with newspaper clippings from exciting cases, thank you letters from past clients, and even a video clip of me in my first cage fight. You can look through our book of verdicts, read client testimonials in another book, and see firsthand how much pride we take in our brand!
When you buy a TV, you are looking for a great picture for a great price. You know you want certain features, and your best friend will probably see your TV set the same way you do—the resolution doesn’t change depending on who looks at it and you don't have to worry about whether your TV explains things in a way you understand or whether it dismisses you. You probably don't have a strong personal feeling about your TV; you don't think it's charming or rude, kind or cruel, endearing or abrasive.
However, when it comes to selecting your lawyer, you need to find the most qualified attorney that you can work with for a long time. It does not matter if your attorney is the most talented to ever live if you can't stand being in the same room as them. You need to feel a connection with your attorney because law is a personal service. You need the right lawyer for you. That is why I suggest meeting the lawyer in person. If there are multiple attorneys in the firm who handle your type of case, ask to have them join you in the conference. You might “click” with another member of that firm more than the attorney you were scheduled to meet.
Having a good feeling about your attorney and good chemistry is critical because you will be working together for a long time, through some really tough situations. You want to find the lawyer or firm that is right for you.
Always remember that your case may end up in a trial. If your lawyer does not make a good first impression on you, what will happen in front of six strangers on a jury?
With several accomplished trial attorneys in our firm, we have a wide range of personalities and a long track record of successfully representing people like you. We always have at least two lawyers work your case because we believe two heads at better than one (and several heads are even better than that). No two attorneys will see a case the same way because each attorney will have a unique point of view. We feel this diversity of experience and viewpoint is of great benefit to our clients.
Legal services do not have MSRPs like cars do. There are different types of fees and varying amounts depending on the lawyer and the type of law. Legal fees are paid in three ways:
This is when a single price is set for all legal services (usually excluding costs) regardless of the number of hours spent on the case. This is how most criminal case fees are structured.
With this type of fee, the lawyer charges by the minute for handling your case at an agreed upon hourly rate. How much the case costs depends on how much time is spent on the case. This is how most civil and family law case fees are structured.
This is the famous “we don't get paid unless we win for you” fee, where the attorney receives a percentage of any recovery to cover their fees and costs. This is almost always how personal injury cases are handled.
Since legal fees vary in each case, it is very difficult to comparison shop. While one lawyer may charge five hundred dollars for a case, another may charge ten times that. If price is your only concern, then the five hundred dollar fee would seem the winner. But how can you be sure?
Behind every hourly rate or flat fee are several “hidden” facts, which are built into the quote:
There is always a premium for experience and talent; an experienced lawyer may charge more per hour than someone just starting out, but should be more efficient than a newly minted lawyer.
Attorneys who are in demand because of their talents and past results may have to turn down work at a lower fee because they have a higher case load.
Attorneys with state of the art technology and research as part of their “product” offer a real value to their clients, but need to charge more to cover the cost of those tools.
When choosing a lawyer, you want to make sure they have the time and energy to devote to your case. For example, our firm does not take every case that calls. We have to balance our case load with our ability to deliver top notch representation to our existing clients. With several attorneys, we have the horsepower to aggressively represent people who have been arrested, injured, or wronged. We are big enough to take on tough cases yet small enough to offer personal service and attention.
If you need a team of trial attorneys to fight for you, please come and meet with us. We know price is always a concern and we can work with you through our flexible payment plans to make sure you can afford first rate legal services.
Every case is unique. When people ask me how many cases I have handled like theirs, the honest answer is “zero!” even if it isn't the first time I have worked with that client. That is not a very comforting answer at first blush, but it is absolutely true.
Even if you have defended a thousand DUI cases, no two are exactly the same—even if, at the base level, they are all similar. However, with that said, you should definitely select a lawyer who has experience in handling cases similar to yours.
Do not be surprised if an ethical attorney hesitates to tell you about past results to “sell” you on their skills. Past performance on similar cases does not guarantee the same result in your case. Ethical attorneys know this, and won't prey on your lack of knowledge with a tactic that suggests all cases are the same. What past results do tell you are that the attorney is willing to work hard and has experience working in the legal system and within the legal process. That is incredibly important.
At Aaron Delgado & Associates, we keep a book of verdicts in the lobby for our new clients to read. That book shows recent trial results and, while it doesn't mean that your case will end in a trial, it shows that we are willing and able to effectively try cases like yours.
No lawyer can guarantee results or predict the future (if they could, they would have won the lottery several times already). If you buy a car, you want to know it works. You want a warranty. As a consumer, it might seem like your attorney lacks confidence if they aren't promising the result you expect. Yet in law, no attorney can or should promise you any result or outcome. It's outright unethical. If an attorney tells you they guarantee an outcome, take your money and run. Fast.
Here are the only promises or predictions an ethical lawyer can make, and I am going to make them to you, here and now, on behalf of Aaron Delgado & Associates:
“If you hire me, I promise to give you my best counsel and to do my best for you, as I have for every client from the moment I started practicing law until the day I retire. I promise to treat you as I would want to be treated and as I would treat my own loved ones. I promise I will always stand between you and harm.”
At Aaron Delgado & Associates, we have more than 110 years combined legal experience. We have helped thousands of people who sat across the table from us nervous, angry, and scared or in terrible pain. We have sat across from people in jail cells who wondered if they would ever walk free again. We have stood beside hospital beds and held the hands of injured clients.
We do not envy you for having to hire a lawyer. It is always at a time in your life when you would rather be doing anything else. It is extremely unlikely you have been putting money away in your “hire a lawyer” fund.
We get it. When you meet with us, we understand it’s probably one of the worst days of your life. So we want to make it easier for you to hand your burden over to us and let us shoulder it for you. Please, if you have been arrested, injured, or wronged, contact our firm and schedule a consultation. We will be honored to serve you.