There’s an old story about The Tortoise & The Hare.
This isn’t it.
This is a story about different kinds of attorneys and why I’m not that.
Well, maybe I can say that a little more clearly: this post is about attorneys practicing several different areas of law and why I’ve so far chosen to practice only one, strenuously resisting all temptations — and there have been many — to add another.
Re-reading one of Scott Greenfield’s articles inspired me to write this post. (Anyone who visits here very long will quickly realize my blog would be half of what it is, if Scott’s blog didn’t exist.) Mirriam Seddiq added further inspiration for the theme. But it was one of the comments left at the end of Scott’s article that really fired me up.
For reasons I have yet to figure out, there’s a perception that anyone can do criminal law.
I’ve noticed this, too. I’ve not figured it out, either. Whether we’re talking about an untrained-in-the-law accused person who has been “reading about it [meaning the law they think applies to their case] on the Internet” at one end of the spectrum, or the untrained-in-criminal-law attorney at the other end, everyone’s a comedian criminal defense attorney.
Frankly, every point on that spectrum gets tiresome after awhile.
The ones that irk me the most, though, are the attorneys, who should know better. They’re more than willing to point out why someone without their years of experience shouldn’t attempt to do what they do in their particular area of civil law expertise. But somehow, like the idiots who watch Jackass and then go hurt themselves, attorneys who should know better decide they’re “just going to help out a friend” by handling the friend’s criminal defense case. Or worse, they actually put themselves out there as attorneys who handle family law, personal injury law, and, oh yeah, we do criminal law, too.
Pretty much all I’ve done since day one is criminal defense. To a certain extent, in the beginning, anyway, it was because I went into practice straight out of law school. I had enough to focus on, just trying to learn how to run a brand-new law practice and criminal defense, and didn’t need to worry about multiple practice areas.
Later, I decided that I want to become the best criminal defense attorney around. And as I began to see just how much that required, an analogy came to my mind that seemed to support this “one-practice-area” mentality.
If I had sharp pains in my side, radiating into my groin, and started passing — I said passing — blood, I’d go to a urologist. I wouldn’t go to these guys. And if I were seriously disturbed enough to believe that losing my hair — and I’ve a lot of hair — was really serious enough to require those guys, I’d tell these guys to piss off. (Okay. I didn’t say “pass off.”)
California doesn’t allow me to say that I specialize in criminal defense, so I don’t, and I won’t. Someday that will change, but I have at least another year, a few more trials, and another exam — not as long, but perhaps harder than the last one I took — administered by the State Bar.
However, although I cannot and do not say that I specialize in criminal defense, there is no other area of law in which I practice.
So, if the police are in your hair, if you’ve pissed off the District Attorney, I’m someone you might want to consider paying to represent you.
Or you could let your friend the personal injury lawyer handle it for free.
Just remember: most of the time, you really do get what you pay for.