One of the most common things I hear in initial consultations is that “attorney so-and-so said he could definitely get me X deal.” It can be a frustrating situation when the client was promised something that no defense attorney in their right mind would promise. Sometimes, it ends up being an amusing situation when the “deal” prospective clients claim they were promised really can be guaranteed.
Multiple clients have said to me that local high-volume DUI firms told them, “if you hire us for your first time regular DUI, we can get the judge to suspend all but one of the ten mandatory days of jail.” That’s true. It’s a reasonable guarantee because it’s a virtual certainty, but it’s misleading for that same reason. That result has nothing to do with the lawyer. The client could get that “deal” if he or she just pleaded to the court. That’s the likely result if the client loses at trial. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a first-time regular DUI defendant plead to the charge and not get nine days suspended. Those firms left the clients with the impression that getting them that “deal” was something special, and had the clients not gone to another attorney, they might have spent the entire representation thinking that was the case.
I honestly don’t know why lawyers would say things like that. Are they banking on the fact clients won’t talk to any other lawyers? Don’t they think the combination of misleading information, high-pressure sales tactics, and tons of clients is going to get the bar involved sooner or later? Maybe they don’t care. Maybe what they’re doing isn’t necessarily unethical if they are wording it properly (though I disagree), but it’s going to make some clients really angry. I don’t know anything about running a mega-firm, but to me, it seems like an awfully stupid business practice.