5 Telltale Signs You Need A New Lawyer

A great attorney can make all the difference in your case, but a bad one can ruin you.   If you keep your eyes peeled to your attorney’s behavior and work, you will know quickly whether you have found someone amazing to represent you or whether you are stuck with a lemon of an attorney.  Watch for these 5 telltale signs, and if you see any of these exhibited, you’ll know you need to find a new attorney.   

  1. Misses Hearings or Is Tardy.  If your attorney is late for court appearances or misses them altogether, his or her behavior is not only unprofessional, but could likely impact your case.  One of your attorney’s main responsibilities is to calendar the dates, keep track of deadlines, file documents on time, and be in court punctually to represent you.  Failure on your attorney’s part to follow through may be grounds for a Bar Complaint, but at the very least, you should look for someone more dependable.
  2. Treats You With Disrespect.  Your attorney will hopefully be very knowledgeable and experiences, and you should give him or her your respect.  However, your counsel should also treat you with courtesy and professionalism.  If your attorney ever calls you names, dismisses your input, or makes you feel badly about yourself, you should look into hiring someone new.
  3. Offends the Judge or Court Staff.  If you notice that the judge or the judge’s staff is bristling at your attorney’s demeanor or if it is obvious that the judge just doesn’t like your attorney, you may want to find someone with better people skills. The judge’s perspective on your attorney may influence his or her decision on your case.  You may think that the way your attorney treats the staff is not important, but often the staff will tattle to the judge behind closed doors if your attorney acts out of line with them.  You want an attorney who is aggressive enough to go to bat for you, but not one who burns bridges with those who decide your fate.
  4. Ignores Your Phone Calls or Fails to Answer Emails.  A common complaint among clients is that that their attorney either fails to respond via phone or writing to their inquiries.  If you have questions that are going unanswered or important communications that your attorney is ignoring, you may want to look elsewhere.  Failure to give you attention can be for many reasons, from too large a client load to just general disinterest.  Whatever the reason, the result is that the proper communication channels have broken down, which gives you grounds to find someone who is a more effective communicator.
  5. Is Out of His/Her League.  Some cases require more sophistication than others.  A felony is often more difficult to defend than a misdemeanor.  Some divorce cases are more complex or involve more assets than others.  If your attorney tells you he or she is not experienced enough or does not have time for a case of your complexity, then you should find someone with the requisite experience.  If you can see from your counsel’s representation of you that he or she is really in too deep of water, you should find someone else.  Your liberty, money, assets, children, or whatever the case is about is your first priority, and you should not be concerned with firing an attorney who isn’t the best for you and your case.

Don’t Do These 3 Things When Looking for a Divorce Attorney

The stakes are high in a divorce, since it involves your children and your assets.  For many people, it is their first experience with the legal system, and they aren’t sure where to start.  Good representation is essential for navigating the system, and avoiding these three mistakes when looking for a divorce attorney will help you have the best outcome:

  • Hiring an Attorney Who Is Not Experienced in Divorce. 

If you have an acquaintance or relative who is an attorney, you might think that he or she would be your best pick since you know and trust them.  While that relationship is valuable, you need to also consider the attorney’s knowledge and experience.  The practice of law can be very broad, and while one attorney may be a wiz at contracts and another at patents, you want to find someone who really knows the in’s and out’s of divorce.  You want someone who knows the judges and mediators in your area and who is comfortable helping you understand and thrive in the system.  One mistake some people make is assuming that all lawyers are about the same in handling a divorce, when in reality, an experienced attorney with years of practice in divorce specifically will give you an edge in your case.

  • Failing to Consider Whether Billing is Flat Rate or Hourly.

Money matters and should be one of your most important up-front considerations.  Your attorney will typically charge you either a flat fee or an hourly billing rate.  There are pros and cons to either option.  With a flat fee, you have the certainty of knowing up front how much your case will cost.  Typically, an attorney comes up with the flat fee price by taking about the average cost of various divorce cases, so by nature, some clients who choose the flat fee option will be overpaying and some who take the flat fee option will be underpaying.  The incentive in a flat fee case for your attorney will be to resolve it quickly and simply, which may impact your attorney’s enthusiasm for litigation or for responding to communications. Alternatively, with an hourly billing rate your pay for the time your attorney works on the case, which typically includes any time reading or answering emails, drafting documents, communicating with staff about your case, or appearing on your behalf. The upside of this billing system is that your attorney is incentivized to go the extra mile because you are paying for each step. The downside is that the bills can add up quickly, and you may end up paying more than you had budgeted.  You should discuss the billing method up front with your attorney, and you should share your thoughts and concerns openly with your attorney to decide the best billing method for your case.

  • Forgetting to Consider Your Attorney’s Negotiating Style

There is no single cookie-cutter style that will be effective for all situations.  Some attorneys are very aggressive, intimidating, and loud-spoken, and these “bull-dog” style attorneys can be effective if you are looking for an attorney who will send a strong message to the other side.  Other attorneys are more conciliatory, and can use their negotiating tactics to facilitate excellent settlements that the mroe aggressive attorneys may find challenging to broker. Another type of attorney may be less impressive in person, but may be extremely well-versed in the system or have excellent writing skills which make them very useful in a case where those skills are needed. You are in the best position to know yourself and your ex-spouse.  Don’t just assume that the loudest attorney on the block is the best. Consider whether your case will be more adversarial or more cooperative, think about your personal preferences, and choose the attorney whose skills are the right fit for you.

In Summary

Have confidence that you can find the right attorney for you and your case. You just need to find someone with the right kind of experience, figure out the most economical and effective billing strategy, and connect with the attorney who has the best skill-set for your particular personality and circumstances, and you will be in a good place to make the divorce process as successful as possible.


5 Signs You Picked The Wrong Attorney

Whether you are facing criminal charges or a party to a civil case, you need a good lawyer by your side to help you navigate the legal proceedings. If things are not going well at court, you may have hired the wrong lawyer. Here are five signs that indicate that you might need to find new legal representation.

1. Your Attorney Does Not Pick Up the Phone

An attorney who doesn’t answer your phone calls or emails is simply not paying attention. Frankly speaking, if getting hold of your attorney is getting increasingly difficult, this indicates that your case may not at the top of your attorney’s priority list, or that he/she may be avoiding you or possibly uncertain how to handle your case. Whether your case is large or small, you deserve to have an attorney who is responsive to you.

2. Your Attorney is Usually Late

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” This is a common slogan competent lawyers live by. If your lawyer is missing court deadlines, this will damage your case, and by the time your case is decided, it might be too late. The legal system takes time to reach a verdict as the judge has to consider each and every aspect of the case to ensure that everyone’s rights are upheld. If your lawyer misses deadlines or hearings, your case will be decided in a much longer time span. This will also increase your over-all litigation costs.

3. Your Attorney is Difficult to Work With

If your lawyer is difficult to work with due to a negative attitude, this is a major red flag, as your case depends on how well you communicate your situation to your attorney. If your attorney uses a condescending tone, you need to find new legal representation.

4. You Hear Negative Feedback from Previous Clients

Ask people if they have ever heard about your attorney, as this will give you an idea about his or her reputation. Also check you can check online resources such as the BBB.org to see whether your attorney has any negative reviews.    

5. You’re Attorney’s Promises Seem Too Good To Be True

Your attorney should advise you of the pros and cons of your case, and the risks and benefits of decisions.  If your attorney is telling you things that don’t seem to line up with what is actually happening in the case, then you should question what you are being told. A professional attorney will welcome the opportunity to explain considerations to you and to obtain your feedback on important strategy decisions for your case.


5 Tips on What To Do and Say When Stopped By Police

With the recent Garner (police chokehold case) and Ferguson cases, many are asking how to interact with police in a safe way. This article gives some general advice on best practices for police interactions, but keep in mind that circumstances may vary. For a personal consultation with an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense, contact David Knecht at davidknechtlaw.com.

1. Remain calm, polite, and non-confrontational.

You must anticipate that a police officer’s first concern will be safety. Remain calm, without making sudden or threatening movements. Comply with the officer’s directions. Even if you assert your rights verbally, you should never physically resist a police officer. Also, as you explain yourself to the officer remain as non-confrontational as possible.

2. You can exercise your right to remain silent in a non-threatening manner.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from self-incrimination. You have the right to remain silent, and you must anticipate that anything you say or do can be used against you. If you are being accused of committing a crime, you can respond, “Officer, I am exercising my 5th right to remain silent.” Or, “I’d like to help you out and I know you are just doing your job, but I’ve
been told that the best thing to do is to remain silent when police ask questions. I’m not trying to be uncooperative.”

3. You can verbally (never physically) refuse to consent to search.

An officer must have probable cause to search a vehicle, but he can do a quick frisk of your person with just reasonable suspicion. You should never resist an officer from physically searching you or your vehicle. You can, however, verbally refuse. When an officer say, “Do you mind if I search your vehicle?” you could respond with something such as, “Officer, I’m sorry but I do not consent to your search of my car, but I won’t do anything to prevent you from doing your job.” An officer will often search your vehicle anyway, but your verbal refusal could help your attorney defend you should evidence against you be found.

4. You can ask if you are free to go.

One fact that is very important, but often obscure, is whether the police are detaining you or whether you are free to go. It may be helpful to ask the officer directly, “Am I being detained, or am I
free to go?” This may help your attorney defend you if evidence of a crime is subsequently discovered.

5. You can ask for an attorney.

If the officer responds that he is detaining you, you have the right to refuse to answer questions and request an attorney. One of the most important aspects of your right to remain silent is that you have to stick with it. Sometime people will invoke their right and then volunteer statements to the police without police even questioning. Remember that anything you say can be used against you, so say as little as possible when you are being detained.

Most police interactions are safe and pleasant. However, where an officer believes he is confronting a potentially dangerous situation, you can help by remaining calm and politely exercising
your rights verbally and never physically resisting the police. For advice, call David Knecht at davidknechtlaw.com.

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