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» Practice in General

Switching Attorneys

I don’t like taking over cases from other lawyers. In a perfect world, I would begin representing every client before charges are filed and stay with the case to the very end. That said, like pretty much every other lawyer I know, a good-sized portion of my clients come to me from other criminal defense attorneys. They seem to be split evenly between people previously represented by public defenders and people previously represented by private attorneys. They’re usually looking for a new lawyer for the same kinds of reasons. I hear many people say they want a new lawyer because their lawyer does not return their calls. I usually take that statement with a grain of salt. A lot of lawyers don’t return calls as … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General

I Probably Take Myself Too Seriously

In one court, I regularly run into a lawyer who amuses me to no end. He’s a big, boisterous guy with thick gray hair and a deep, booming voice. His general demeanor reminds me of the ghost of Christmas present from the Muppet Christmas Carol. He always wears loud ties, most of which I believe feature some minor Disney character, and he only partially tucks his baggy dress shirts into what I suspect to be a pair of Dickies work pants. It isn’t uncommon for him to wear a jean shirt to court, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear a belt. None of that really sets him apart from a lot of other lawyers though. What really separates him from the rest is … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Practice in General

What BigLaw Taught Me

I’ve recently had a few opportunities to interact with BigLaw. I was fortunate enough to see a few honest-to-goodness BigLaw lawyers work their magic in an initial consultation, and I even got to experience, through a client, the type of service BigLaw provides. Being the unselfish guy I am, I am going to share with you the five essential lessons I learned watching BigLaw. Follow these, and you’ll be representing clients like BigLaw in no time flat. 1) Don’t Answer Your Phone That’s right, don’t even think about picking it up. This rule doesn’t just apply to famous partners with national reputations, but also to junior associates. Lawyers may know that you don’t go to court very often, if at all, but your clients don’t. I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

"This Is Real"

I recently left the country to attend my sister’s wedding. That’s why I didn’t put up a post last week. It was actually the longest I’ve gone without putting in a full day of work since Adrian and I started the firm, and yesterday was my first full day back. Yesterday morning, I had what I consider to be an extremely important hearing. Although I wasn’t away from work for a particularly long time, it was long enough to make some of the feelings I get before big hearings or trials seem slightly foreign. The hour-long commute to court gave me plenty of time to think about what I was feeling. The thrill of going into court and making an argument you believe in on behalf of a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

The Factual Basis

Hang around most Arizona courts for a little while, and you’re likely to see a plea fall through for lack of a factual basis. For those readers who don’t know what I’m talking about, Arizona’s rules of criminal procedure require that a court determine whether a factual basis exists for each element of the crime to which a defendant is pleading before it can enter judgment on a guilty plea. Evidence constituting the factual basis can come from any part of the record or from a defendant’s statements. There’s no reasonable doubt standard for a guilty plea. Instead, the court just has to find strong evidence of guilt. In a few courts, the plea will simply have a provision that says, “factual basis taken from police report … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Practice in General

Don't Do It

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve had a fair amount of contact with law students at ASU through moot court judging, hiring clerks and research assistants, and just being an alumnus. I’ve met a lot of bright, articulate law students. I haven’t met a lot of impassioned law students who want to be advocates and truly believe in what they do. Most of the law students I meet, like most of my fellow law students when I was in law school, don’t know what they want to do. They just want a job, and any job will do. Maybe that works if you want to write wills or review contracts, but in criminal defense, that won’t cut it. It’s a calling. It’s stressful, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Law School, Practice in General

A Tricky Situation

Article 2, Section 22 of the Arizona Constitution says that “[a]ll persons charged with crime shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except . . . [f]or felony offenses committed when the person charged is already admitted to bail on a separate felony charge and where the proof is evident or the presumption great as to the present charge.” Knowing that, what do you say when you know your client’s new offense was allegedly committed while he was out on bond for another felony offense and the judge asks, “counsel, do you have any recommendations regarding bond?” Does it matter if the same judge is assigned to the client’s other case and presumably knows that the client was out on bail when he or she supposedly committed the new offense? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Constitution, Clients, Courts, Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism, Prosecutors

Talking to Civil Attorneys

Because my practice is limited to criminal law, I don’t often work with civil practice lawyers. When I do, it’s usually because one of my clients is being sued civilly for something related to his or her criminal case. I have a few clients in that situation right now. When the attorneys involved in those civil matters call me, I know they are civil practice attorneys before they can finish their first sentence. This is because they always introduce themselves as “so-and-so” from “such-and-such, such-and-such, and such-and-such.” They don’t say “from the firm of such-and-such, such-and-such, and such-and-such.” I suspect that’s because their venerable firms are such well-known institutions in the Arizona legal community that I should instantly know just what they’re talking about. The … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

A Couple of Suggestions

I regularly hear lawyers make the same stupid mistakes. Here are a couple of suggestions to help them avoid two very common mistakes: 1) Don’t argue ineffective assistance on direct appeal You can try, but it isn’t going to work. I’ve seen judges appoint new counsel for a direct appeal because they thought appellate counsel might want to argue ineffective assistance. Lawyers have told me they intend to argue ineffective assistance on direct appeal. Please, have a look at State v. Spreitz, 202 Ariz. 1, 3, 39 P.3d 525, 527 (2002). The Supreme Court of Arizona explained: [I]neffective assistance of counsel claims are to be brought in Rule 32 proceedings. Any such claims improvidently raised in a direct appeal, henceforth, will not be addressed by appellate courts … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Practice in General

"Gen Y" Lawyers vs. "Gen Y" Clients

Posts here and here over at Simple Justice, as well as related blog posts here and here, provide some interesting discussion on Generation Y attitudes. Admittedly, I had to look up what Generation Y means. Surprisingly, that didn’t give me the clear answer I wanted. I’m pretty sure I’m part of “Gen Y.” I did look to Wikipedia for the definition of Gen Y, didn’t I? Isn’t being tech savvy part of it? Anyway, without a clear answer about what Gen Y is, I’m just going to assume I’m part of it. I’m also going to assume that it encompasses all lawyers under 35. That said, I think a large number of Gen Y lawyers do possess the “all about me” mindset and sense of entitlement … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Practice in General, Solo Practice

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