Welcome to the Criminal Law Guy VLOG.
In this second part of Choosing a Criminal Lawyer in Perth series, we go through some of the factors that we believe are important when selecting a law firm to represent you.
So the first thing you need to ask yourself, is is that lawyer qualified? Do they hold an Australian practising certificate? In this case with the legal practice board of WA. That may seem a little bit redundant in the sense that you can’t advise people on the law unless you have a practising certificate. Well, sometimes that’s not entirely true. We have people coming to us and saying to us, “Well our friend told us this”, or, “our friend told her that”, or, “the police said this”, or, “the police said that.” Well, respectfully, we say to clients, is your friend or legal practitioner? Is the police officer a legal practitioner? If not, then let’s just put that advice to one side and listen to what we’re telling you. And we say that in a very, very kind way and a very, very, I guess, accepting way.
Because as I said, people are in a very vulnerable position, and friends and mates and family and all this often want to hang out, want to help out, I should say. So you need to find, first of all, anyone that’s going to provide you legal advice has to hold a current practising certificate as we do. And you can find that out by really looking at people’s webpages. You wouldn’t be holding yourself out as a legal practitioner if you weren’t. The legal practice board would be on you very quickly and charges and convictions can flow from that. Okay, so putting that aside, what do you do? You make a phone call. You might look through the internet and find somebody. Now the internet is something fairly new in the last 10 years. We were one of the first practices to have a website back in 2007, 2008, and it’s gone from that to crazy at the moment.
You might look down the website, along with the list of the organic rankings, and say, “Well, this firm looks pretty good”, or, “this firm looks pretty good.” And then investigate further by looking at the Google reviews. Google reviews you need to be very careful of. Some Google reviews are there for mischievous purposes. Others invariably were never clients of the firm, so take that with a pinch of salt. Let’s get to the point where you found someone online and you want to talk to them. Well, the sorts of questions you want to ask the practitioner straight away are what do you do in the firm? Now within the law firm, you have receptionists, you have senior lawyers, you have junior lawyers, and you have paralegals and students. Depending on the nature of your matter, you may indicate who you want to speak to.
If you’re charged with a serious crime and indictable matter which is going up to the district or the Supreme court, you may at some stage want to talk to the managing partner or the practice director as opposed to perhaps a student working there. That’s an obvious conclusion for you to draw. But in terms of what you should be asking that law firm is, do they specialize or do they concentrate solely on criminal law? If the answer’s yes, fine. Move on. Then you might want to find out from them what sort of criminal law matters they actually engage in. Whether it could be simple, summary matters from at the very lowest end of the scale through to the more serious matters, such as dangerous driving, causing death, manslaughter, murder. And the list really goes on. So it’s their competence and confidence in dealing with serious matters, as well as not so serious matters, is important in terms of ticking the box as to the choice of lawyer.