Choosing a defense attorney can be the most important decision of a defendant’s life. Criminal charges often come with serious repercussions, including steep fines and even substantial jail time depending on the charges. Not all Oklahoma defense attorneys are equally qualified to handle every case, and with so much on the line, it’s important to ensure that the attorney chosen to represent a client is the best one he or she can afford.
Finding an Attorney
Defendants looking for an attorney to represent them in court often start by asking friends and family members for referrals. When that falls short, as it typically does, they turn to the internet. The web is a great place to find a lawyer, provided the defendant is willing to put in a little bit of leg work.
Word of mouth is just about always the best advertising, and there are plenty of resources available online for getting feedback on specific lawyers or law firms. It’s important to recognize that an attorney’s ability to adequately defend his or her client will rest partially on previous experience. Look specifically for an attorney or law firm that has represented clients facing similar charges, and follow up on any testimonials or references offered online.
Honestly Evaluate Financial Options
Everyone wants the best lawyer around, but some highly-acclaimed attorneys simply don’t offer services that are affordable for all clients. Try to sit down and honestly assess financial options prior to beginning the search for an attorney, and be sure to inquire about upfront fees, retainers, and payment schedules prior to signing a retainer agreement.
Review the Retainer Agreement
The retainer agreement is a contract between a lawyer and his or her client that outlines the attorney’s hourly rates and billing methods, the scope of representation, and the stipulations placed on either side who wishes to terminate the agreement. It’s an important document, so take the time to review it and ask any relevant questions before signing the agreement. Clients should make sure that they abide by their responsibilities as outlined in the retainer agreement, including any arrangements made for fees or retainers, as most attorneys will not begin working on the case until a payment agreement has been reached.