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And the One Question consumers must ask to get the best.
If you or someone you love is arrested, hiring a defense lawyer is inevitable, even if you are hiring the Public Defender. Most people do not want to use the Public Defender for fairly obvious reasons: lack of adequate taxpayer funding = virtually no time to work on cases + a case load that exceeds the Florida Supreme Court’s order regarding a criminal defense attorney’s yearly maximum by April each year. The case load is so high, almost no one qualifies to pay for a court appointed lawyer if they have a job. And yes, the Public Defender is not free: as the case concludes, a fee is assessed by the court. The first fee is actually assessed when someone completes an application. If the fees are not paid, then nonpayment results in a lien that becomes a public debt record or a financial responsibility violation of probation.
Then there is the concern over the quality level of the court appointed lawyer: there are no Assistant Public Defenders who are certified criminal law experts in this entire judicial circuit, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties. This does not mean the uncertified lawyers are bad lawyers. Many are very good, but you just don’t know. All are dangerously overloaded regardless of skill level.
The second major concern is the cost of hiring a private criminal defense attorney. No one wants to pay good money for an under-qualified lawyer. The deepest concern of most consumers is over paying for legal services that aren’t worth the money paid due to lack of quality.
Finally, consumers are deliberately misled by advertising by fake lawyer ratings on social media and other websites. A confusing series of color codes, stars, fancy language, letters and numerical systems promise to supply consumers with valuable information in order to guide them to the best lawyers. Instead, these ratings are simply manufactured out of thin air by corporations who looking to make a buck. Most are not even recognized by the Florida Bar, and none of them are the official Florida Bar rating system.
Consumers are frustrated by problems with quality, affordability, and accurate lawyer ratings
These three concerns are why the Florida Bar adopted legal specialization in the form of Board Certification in 1982. Board Certification is:
1. Official – either a lawyer is certified as a specialist, or not. This answers the quality question without stars, letters, or other corporate tricks. This is the highest level of quality obtainable in a particular area of law, including criminal law (trial and appellate).
2. Affordable – high quality legal representation is never cheap, yet when consumers pay for a certified specialist, they get their money’s worth. Specialists know things that uncertified lawyers don’t know. Why? Simply because the rating system used by the Florida Bar is:
3. Accurate – Board certification is extremely hard to obtain. The official two day certification exam is much harder than the basic Florida Bar Exam: the last time it was administered, not a single lawyer in the First Judicial Circuit passed. Statewide, almost 90% of the lawyers who took the certification exam failed. Anonymous reviews are part of the process, but the problem of fake “client reviews” such as experienced by Amazon, are not even a part of the evaluation process.
A single question is the answer to consumer frustration with searching for a defense lawyer
“Are you certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Florida Bar?” This is the only question you need to ask about a criminal defense lawyer’s qualifications and experience.
Since less than a fraction of 1% of Florida lawyers are specialists in criminal law, save yourself time and money by asking this question before scheduling an appointment.
Board Certified Experts are the specialists in Florida Criminal Law
There is no substitute for Board Certification. Board certification is the highest level of an attorney’s competency, skill, proficiency, professionalism and evaluation as recognized officially by the Florida Bar.
Stephen Cobb is a Board Certified criminal defense lawyer. As a practicing DUI attorney in Destin, Florida as well, Mr. Cobb is interested in hearing about your case. For a free initial consultation, contact The Cobb Law Firm by calling (850) 466-1522 now.
Cobb Law Firm
5 Clifford Dr.
Shalimar, FL 32579