If you’ve come to the general conclusion that hiring a traffic ticket attorney is the right decision for you, then you’re likely in the process of choosing a NY traffic lawyer. How can you determine which attorney in particular is the right attorney for your case?
In most situations, there will be multiple options. There will be plenty of attorneys willing to take your case and likely more than one traffic attorney who is capable of doing a good job. In fact, there are more and more popping up every day claiming to be able to help with your speeding ticket, etc.
So what should make one traffic attorney ultimately stand out from the rest? Some things to consider:
- Fee. Of course any viable attorney must charge a fee you can afford and is in line with the potential penalties you are facing.
- Experience. Experience with the particular type of case and in your particular court/county/area.
- Your first contact. Was the law office prompt to the phone and friendly when you called? If you left an inquiry via a voice message or email submission, were you contacted quickly? Communications problems with the firm when you’re a potential client may be a warning sign before becoming an actual client.
- Your initial consultation. Who gave your consultation? Speak with an attorney? Paralegal? Administrative Assistant? Was the information you were given clear and concise? Seem honest and willing to discuss downsides and risks? Were all your questions answered?
- Attorney’s reputation. Were you referred by a friend or someone else you know? Did you just find the attorney online via a search? What do the general comments that you may find online say about the NY traffic ticket lawyer you are considering? How long have they been in business?
With plenty to consider, here are some things not to get too caught up in, or possibly even run away from, when choosing your traffic ticket lawyer:
- Online reviews. The certainly have some merit, but there are also too many questions to put too much stock in it. I once had a client tell me he was using the online reviews as the primary way to compare three traffic attorneys he was considering. That’s a little much. Yelp is infamous for “filtering” reviews and has been accused more than once of applying their filters in favor of their paying advertisers. Google reviews appear and disappear. I’ve read a million stories about that, mostly because it happened to us when we moved offices within NYC and simply updated our address. Businesses often have the ability to remove or challenge bad reviews. Sometimes bad reviews are just angry people venting moreso than a fair shot at the attorney. The point is, consider online reviews with a grain of salt.
- “Success” rates and statistics. Different courts and procedures, different violations charged, different driving records and judges and goals based on a client’s job or personal situation… Many different ways a traffic attorney can be successful. Moreover, every case is different. How can I tell you how your case “looks”or what your chances of success are before I’ve spoken a single word with the prosecutor, reviewed any evidence offered by the officer or have any idea which judge has been assigned to your case? Your attorney should be able to help you ascertain what your primary goal is and how realistic “success” will be, what factors may affect your chances of success and which of these factors are and are not within our control I understand that people like numbers because they are easy to compare, but don’t get so caught up because one attorney throws the number 72% at you and the other comes in at 69%. It’s apples and oranges.
- Guarantees. These shouldn’t just be given less weight. They should be avoided altogether. In New York, traffic ticket lawyers cannot charge contingency fees–where the fee varies based on the result of the case–on traffic violations. A money back guarantee (only pay if you achieve a certain result) is a fee based on the result of the case and therefore not permitted according to New York State Bar Association rules . Moreover, I can just about guarantee you that their “guarantee” is for some result that any attorney will be able to attain in 99% of traffic violation cases. These traffic attorneys wouldn’t offer to do the work unless they expected the result they “guarantee” in order to get themselves paid. I just find the money back guarantee to be somewhat devious and in general I’d be more skeptical about how honest these attorneys were in their consultation. I feel attorneys offering “guarantees” should be avoided.
In many ways choosing your traffic ticket attorney in NY is similar to choosing any other service provider, from contractor to tutor for your child to landscaper. When choosing any service provider, it’s probably wise to do a quick review of what you are looking for and what will or will not impress you during your initial conversation. Having a basic plan in your head, and idea with regard to what you consider important, should help you get the most out of your consultation and ultimately help you in choosing a NY traffic lawyer who’s best for your job.
Submitted by Scott Feifer