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- in Practice Management and Fees
- by Stephen Gustitis
For good or bad, websites, search engines, and Googlebot are facts of advertising life. If Bryan|College Station defense attorneys want to be seen – if they want to get phone calls – they must understand how the system works and use it to their advantage. Face it, most criminal lawyers need to advertise if they want to be in the hunt for business. People must find us if we are to get the calls. An adage in bicycle racing is “train your weaknesses, but race your strengths.” If you’re a former DA, there’s nothing wrong with touting that fact to remain competitive in the marketplace. If you have experience setting you apart from the competition, I have no problem with you using it to generate calls.
However, we know it’s a competitive world and not all criminal defense lawyer advertising will be scrupulous. One of the most common situations I encounter with potential new clients is the statement “I need a guarantee” or “Another lawyer said he can get my case dismissed.” I hear it often. First and foremost, any criminal attorney who tells you what the outcome of your case is going to be during the initial interview is lying to you. It’s that simple.
Conscientious College Station lawyers can help teach potential clients what they need. Accused folks are like most other people . . . some of them want to be lied to, some of them want the unvarnished truth, but most don’t know what they need. They are, however, teachable. Conscientious lawyers who believe in telling clients the truth can teach clients how to choose a lawyer and what to look for in a defender.
Most reasonable people already know what they want. Most just want someone who cares more about them than the money. Most people just want a criminal lawyer who will empathize with them and work hard to get the best results possible under the circumstances. Thankfully, even marginally sophisticated clients understand lawyers practice law to make a living. But if we can successfully place ourselves in the shoes of the potential client, demonstrating both confidence and competence, we have a better chance of persuading them we are the best choice among several other good choices.
We also must allow the free enterprise system to work its magic. I’ve seen it work with Brazos County defense lawyers. Cut-rate lawyers come into town promising the moon. Over time they fold because “They’re writing checks in their marketing that they can’t cash in the courtroom.” But I think it is even more basic than that. We all cannot be “successful” in the courtroom all the time. But we can be caring and empathetic all the time. That is the service which stands the test of time. The quality of our service is what brings people in and keeps them coming back.
But life is not fair either. The cut-raters really don’t care. Sometimes they get the business. It’s a hard pill to swallow that others must suffer because of unscrupulous behavior. Conscientious lawyers just can’t dwell on that inequity. If a client gets screwed by some fly-by-night, hopefully the word gets out and the free enterprise system will work its magic. If not, we can find comfort in in Romans 12:19: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
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Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.