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» Professionalism

Who Needs Lawyers Anyway?

I came across a fascinating post about the unauthorized practice of law after Mauricio Hernandez at the Irreverent Lawyer wrote a post of his own discussing it. It was the sort of thing that took a little time for me to digest before writing about it. For those too lazy to click through, the original article is about a woman with a very strong background in criminal law who moved here then took and passed the Arizona bar before becoming a capital staff attorney in Maricopa County. Ignoring some off-putting personal attacks that may or may not be deserved and a bizarre part in the closing paragraph that tries to make it a red-state-blue-state political problem, it’s a thought-provoking piece about the flagrant unauthorized practice of law by a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Ethics, lawyers, Practice in General, Professionalism

Avvo Is A Disaster

I’ve been getting quite a bit of traffic coming to my site from Avvo. It isn’t because I’ve finally claimed my profile there, which I haven’t, or because I paid for some advertising there, which I didn’t. To tell you the truth, the visitors that come here from Avvo probably aren’t looking for me at all. Avvo, which purports to provide “Expert Advice When You Need It Most,” is directing traffic to my site through the profiles of three lawyers whom I’ve never met. Avvo, a company that people apparently use to make the extremely important decision of finding a lawyer and that touts its supposedly unbiased ratings system as being based on a mathematical model and capable of enabling prospective clients to assess a lawyer’s qualifications, can’t … Read entire article »

Filed under: Marketing, Professionalism

The Goal

Being a criminal defense lawyer is a funny thing sometimes. When I look at many of my colleagues, I feel like we live in completely different worlds. Some firms have mascots. Some lawyers put signs up all around the jails saying they guarantee the lowest price around. There’s a guy who does every DUI for a few hundred dollars, a guy with a catchy jingle that constantly plays on Mexican radio stations, and a guy who has a business card with a shark on it. Okay, well maybe two of those guys are same guy, but he’s a hell of a guy. Or so I’ve heard. It’s strange to look at someone who’s doing something so vastly different from what I do and realize that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Professionalism

Missing the Point

You can imagine my surprise yesterday when this ten-day-old post suddenly lit up with new comments. They read like typical troll comments, but they were from lawyers. Local lawyers, in fact, and ones who seem to have quite a bit of experience. I believe I have multiple mutual friends with at least one of them, though I doubt he realizes that. I have no clue what possessed all of them to comment at once. Like typical troll comments, they made ad hominem attacks. One writer accused me of presuming my clients guilty, another accused me of going off “half-cocked” without knowing my facts, and yet another seems to think I merely hold myself out as someone who practices criminal defense and accused me of throwing gossip … Read entire article »

Filed under: lawyers, Professionalism

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

Zealous Representation

In this post, Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice talks about how zealous advocacy will no longer be necessary in New York starting on April 1, 2009. Arizona attorneys haven’t had to zealously advocate for their clients for years. However, most criminal defense attorneys still promise in their fee agreements that they will zealously represent their clients, and there are still quite a few zealous advocates out there. I doubt that changing the language of our ethics rules had much of an effect. Interestingly, at least one Justice on the Supreme Court of Arizona disagrees. Every Arizona attorney is required to take a professionalism course. When I took the course, we watched a video of Chief Justice Ruth McGregor talking about the need to increase civility in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Professionalism

Trusting Prosecutors

In Arizona, victims can choose whether or not to be interviewed by a defendant or his attorney. In pretty much every case, I send the prosecutor a letter asking whether the victim would be willing to submit to an interview. Victims almost never want to speak with me, so I’m forced to trust that the prosecutor actually asked them about consenting to an interview. I’m not a very trusting person, and I’m especially suspicious when there’s no way to verify what someone tells me. That’s the case with victim interviews. I bet a lot of prosecutors never bother asking victims, but in most instances, I have no way of proving it. I can’t later seek out the victim and find out. That would be a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Professionalism, Prosecutors, Trial, Victim's Rights

Why Do We Do It?

I can’t remember ever disagreeing with anything Bobby G. Frederick has written over at the South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog, but I definitely don’t feel the same way he does about something he says in this post. I really like the term “cause lawyer,” which I’ve never heard before, but I can’t say I agree with this: Defense attorneys, by and large, don’t do this for the money. We have to pay the bills and run an office, and compensation is good, but we do this because we love what we do and because we believe in what we do, whether it is helping people or whether it is fighting to preserve what little rights we have left as citizens. This might be petty, as I’m just disagreeing with his generalization … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General, Professionalism

I Will Never Recommend These Lawyers to Anyone

Last week, I discovered one drawback of having some of my favorite blogs link to us. With the increase in traffic has come spam. Lots of it. Occasionally, an obvious spam comment slips past our filter, but it doesn’t bother me. I delete it, and life goes on. It normally involves male enhancement or someone willing to do something that’s illegal in the deep south. It looks like some new lawyers have jumped into the fray. Taking a cue from viagra vendors, some scumbag attorneys have decided to spam my poor little blog. They put up stupid comments talking about how great they are and linking to their website. The spam comments were completely unrelated to the posts. I won’t provide a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Marketing, Practice in General, Professionalism

Contract Attorney Conflicts

Some Arizona jurisdictions have diversion programs where the county attorney will notify a potential defendant that they are going to be charged with a crime. The state sends defendants a letter explaining they have been selected for diversion and that, if they agree to participate in the program and successfully complete it, the state will not indict them. It isn’t just a dismissal; it’s almost as if it never happened. One county’s program is particularly great. The woman who runs it is knowledgeable, fair, and very easy to deal with. Most importantly, she seems genuinely concerned with making sure everyone she supervises succeeds. Often, I get the feeling diversion programs and probation departments are run by people who hate criminal defendants, see no problem with forcing … Read entire article »

Filed under: Ethics, Practice in General, Professionalism

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