Step 1: Find The Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Being arrested can be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can possibly go through. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves “Gosh, I hope I get arrested and get to call a criminal defense lawyer and pay a whole bunch of money today.” That just doesn’t happen. When you or someone you love is arrested, it messes with your head so severely that it’s very easy to make bad decisions. This is why most people end up talking to the police despite decades of cultural indoctrination telling people that they have the right to remain silent. Most people don’t. This mistake is often compounded during the process of hiring a lawyer.

People go to social media sites and put out cries for legal help, which usually aren’t very effective. However, if you or someone you love has been arrested within the state of Florida, finding one of the best lawyers in the entire state is very easy. In fact, you will have over 300 lawyers to select from. All you need to do is ask a single question: Are you certified by the Florida Bar as a Criminal Law Specialist? Once you ask this question, you are going to get one of two responses: yes, or the long story of why that particular criminal defense lawyer does not believe that an attorney needs to be certified by the Florida Bar. The reality is that there is a lot of marketing spam to cut through during the process of hiring a lawyer, regardless of the nature of your case.

You’re confronted by a bewildering array of marketing gimmicks designed to hook your attention in order to oversell and often underrepresent. For example, you may run across marketing spam where lawyers are claiming to be “Super Lawyers”. Let me be very blunt: there are no super lawyers. There are no fancy outfits involved with the hard work of defending you or someone you love. Board certification is the gold standard because marketing spam is not. Marketing spam also consists of such things as social media reviews. In other words, people who often have no practical experience in the field of criminal law are giving their opinions about whether or not a lawyer is good. They do this without having any objective criteria or rational reason for holding that opinion. This can be dangerous and The Florida Bar created board certification as a way to insure that consumers of legal services are protected from misleading marketing.

Let’s look at the difference between marketing spam and board certification. First, board certification requires a two-day examination that makes the mandatory Florida Bar Exam look like kindergarten in comparison. The last time the criminal law board certification exam was administered in Florida, almost 90% of the lawyers failed (many of whom were very experienced criminal defense attorneys). Secondly, board certification requires actual trial experience. A significant portion of this trial experience cannot be minor crimes and offenses. Instead, these cases have to be actual trials involving serious and complex legal matters. Most lawyers who are not certified as specialists in criminal law by the Florida Bar do not have the required trial experience or simply cannot pass the test. Sometimes, both reasons will apply.

In contrast, your standard social media marketing spam allows companies to go out and put up websites where they ask for user reviews. That creates content for search engine optimization, but it doesn’t give a potential consumer of legal services a very good reference point. Additionally, it’s very easy for lawyers to rank very highly without any connection to actual skill. If you look me up on several different social media lawyer rating websites, I will have a top ranking (if not the top ranking) for my practice area on each one. Those top rankings means absolutely nothing. What matters most is the opinion of the people who run board certification. The social media review sites like to brag about how peer reviews are part of the process, but what they don’t tell you is that peer reviews can be gamed to mislead you on most of these sites.

When the Florida Bar conducts peer reviews, they ask the opinions of judges the candidate for certification has practiced in front of as well as lawyers who have fought against (and may even hold a grudge against) the lawyer being reviewed. Think of it as peer review on steroids. The board of legal specialization at the Florida Bar gets a lot of information that one would never find on a social media review site. Additionally, these marketing spam lawyer rating sites do not require any form of testing or trial experience. Perhaps worst of all, they make their money from lawyers who advertise, which is providing a very strong financial incentive to “huff and puff” and make all lawyers look like they are a perfect 10. When it comes to hiring a lawyer for you or someone you love, you need the best you can possibly find, not misleading advertisements that bait you into paying too much for too little skill.

Since 1982, the Florida Bar has created the most effective peer review testing and overall program to determine that someone claiming to be a specialist actually is a specialist in criminal law. Therefore, when you go searching for a lawyer, you only need to remember one question, and this is step one of finding the best criminal defense lawyer that you possibly can: Are you certified by the Florida Bar as a criminal law specialist?

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Finding The Right Criminal Defense Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 669-5882 today.

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