- Admitted to Florida Bar in 1993
- Defending Criminal Cases since 1993 (first job was as a Public Defender, working for the greatest boss ever, Joe DuRocher)
- Juris Doctorate degree from St. Louis University, 1993 (Cum Laude)
- Master of Business Administration from St. Louis University, 1993
I suppose that an Attorney Profile page should contain some sort of bio. The problem is, I hate bios. I can't remember who said this, but the fact is "You Are Not Your Biography." Still, you want to learn a little bit more about me, so the first thing I'll say is that you should check out my ABOUT THE FIRM page. Yes, it contains my usual rants and ramblings, but it is informative.
Hiring an attorney is like a job interview. As a defense attorney, I'm an employee--I work for the Accused. As such, I'm going to give you a few helpful hiring tips.
First, people want to know my win percentage. I don't keep stats, because they're misleading. Sure, people call me and are happy with my 5-Star Reviews. But that's not a perfect stat, as I know plenty of awful attorneys who have lots of good reviews (I'll never tell who, of course). Maybe my 10.0 Avvo rating will assist some attorney shoppers, but I know some awful 10.0 attorneys, and some absolutely fantastic 7.4 attorneys.
Basically, please resist the urge to quantify the practice of law. Don't get me wrong, I love data. I attach numbers to everything, so I'm guilty of this very thing. I'm fascinated by data because its everywhere, just waiting to be absorbed (if you want more ranting on data, check out my article A Few Words About Data). Yet, as they say in football, statistics are for losers. For example, if you want the earning statistics of a bar full of people, imagine Bill Gates walking into that bar. The average income of the people in that bar will be over $1,000,000. Obviously, that income statistic doesn't really tell you what the bartender makes. It doesn't tell you what the bouncer makes. I doubt the dishwasher is making over a $1,000,000 a year, even though the statistics state otherwise.
Again, we want to attach numbers to everything. We wear watches that tell us how many steps we take, and football teams now have their players wear bracelets to track how well they've slept and how hard they've practiced (Did they run 3 miles in practice? How fast did they run? If they're slowing down in practice or didn't get enough sleep, how will that effect their game performance?).
Unfortunately, statistics don't work with criminal defense. I've had streaks where every DUI case was dropped or dismissed, yet I wouldn't give a potential client such misleading numbers. Still, we can gain meaningful information about an attorney by asking the right questions. As the saying goes, "the quality of your questions will determine the quality of your life" (Tony Robbins said this, I believe?). If you want to find the right attorney, ask the right questions. These are the best questions to ask:
How long have you been doing this? This may be the most important question you ask. If the defense attorney only has five or ten years experience, move on. Hypocrisy Alert: Yes, I thought I knew everything after practicing for ten years--but its 2018, I'm twenty five years into this (not sure when you're reading this...). I'm learning new stuff constantly, and I know so much more than I did ten years ago. If it were my family member in trouble, I wouldn't consider hiring someone with under 15 years experience. I'm just saying.
Have you practiced in front of this judge before? As the saying goes, a good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge. Often, you need an attorney who has defended a case in front of your judge. That's why I only take cases in Orange County, Seminole County, and Osceola County, because I've defended cases in front of these judges since 1993. Ok, I know what you sports fans are thinking: Does ESPN's pre-game analysis ever mention the referees calling the football game? Are the referees ever a factor? Look, I love football, but not every aspect of the NFL translates into criminal defense. Judges in a criminal case can be very heavy handed and impact the outcome of a case far more than a referee in the NFL. Hire an attorney who has done a case before your judge.
Have you handled a case like this before? Simple question, right? Let's face it, the more you do it, the better at it you become. When I was an assistant public defender back in 1993, I had never defended a criminal case before. When I defended a case for the first time, I was blinded and protected by the ignorance of youth. After all, I obtained a Juris Doctorate with honors, and a master's degree, and had just passed the Bar. Looking back on it, I realize that young lawyers just aren't smart enough to know how bad they are (myself included). Bottom line, you wouldn't have wanted to be the first DUI case I defended back in 1993. The nuance of this question is, even attorney's with 15 years experience may lack experience handling your particular type of case, and won't know as much as someone who has 25 or 30 years experience.