What You Should Ask Your Attorney

Interviewer: So when people are interviewing lawyers for a DUII case, it sounds like that’s one of the good questions to ask them if they have appeared in the specific court or jurisdiction that the ticket is in. And then, obviously, have they handled a lot of cases. What are the good questions that people should ask so they can evaluate whether they’re talking to an attorney that would be good for them?

Your Attorney Needs To Be Available To You Throughout the Case

Shannon: I think that the best question that you can ask, other than do you have experience in this area or in this area of the state, is are you available for my case. This is because oftentimes, you hire an attorney and you meet with that attorney the first time and then maybe at the court appearance and then you can’t get a hold of them. You might find that their assistant is either emailing you back or calling you back or you can’t get an appointment with the attorney.

It is such an emotionally trying time in your life, when you’re facing criminal charges, and you need somebody that’s going to be available to you and able to answer questions within 24 hours. This will provide you with the peace of mind that you will most definitely need. So make sure that you hire an attorney that can do that, that is available for you. I think I told you this before, but I pride myself on trying to get back to my clients during the business week in no more than 24 hours.

If I’m in trial and I answer you the next day then it can’t be helped, but you will most likely hear an answer from me the same day. My clients are able to reach me either through confidential messaging software or through the telephone. And you’ll speak to me. You’re not going to speak to an assistant that’s telling you what I told them to tell you.

So I think that makes a real difference in representation. Your attorney is somebody that’s dealing with very personal aspects of your life and so I think you want to deal with that person directly. So here’s another benefit to having a private defense council versus if you had a public defender. Chances are you’re dealing with multiple people and you’re only actually meeting with that public defender maybe once before your court hearing. Your private defense council, in theory, you’re going to be able to meet with them or speak with them as much as you want.

Make Sure the Attorney You Hire Is The One That Will Represent You

Interviewer: Have you seen cases where one attorney, maybe the salesman on the front end, and then once the person is a client, someone else will show up for the arraignment, someone else may show up for their trial?

Shannon: Definitely. It happens where an attorney is double-booked or there’s two court appearances. That happen in different areas and so you’ll need to have another attorney stand in or cover for you. I’ve also seen when the client is asking questions of the attorney and all they’re hearing back from is the paralegal, which is fine. However, I think for really important matters, like a trial or a motion hearing or even your DMV license hearing, it’s really important that they attorney you hired be there.

You want somebody that you won’t have to re-explain your case to over and over again. They can have notes in the file, but no one’s going to have that relationship with you, know your initial story and be able to advocate for you.

A Private Attorney Can Give Your Case Individual Attention

Your attorney is going to know best which way to proceed. If you’re looking for somebody to have a real hands-on approach on your case and give you individual attention, then I think going with a private attorney, a sole practitioner, is probably going to be the best fit. A private attorney is a good choice if you’re looking for somebody to team up with you to solve this problem. If you were looking for somebody to put a number on your case and push you through the system then a public defender would probably be your best bet, unfortunately.

It’s not because they’re less skilled, they’re just very, very busy. And there are public attorneys that do a wonderful job for their clients and they make a big difference with the profession of our laws here in Oregon, absolutely.

Shannon I. Wilson, Esq.

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