Off The Record: Episode 4
Noel: Can I win your case after talking to you on the phone for 15 to 30 minutes? Find out on this episode of “Off The Record“. I get a phone call from a guy who’s asking me how to solve his sexual assault case right off the bat. How many time does that happen to you, Tim?
Tim: About 5 to 10 times a week. It’s the classic call. Someone will call me up and say, “Hey, I got accused of sexual assault. I got caught in a sting operation. I did this or they’re accusing me of this.”
Can you win?
My answer is, “I don’t have a freaking clue.”
I’ve talked to you for 3 minutes. You’re probably lying to me. I’ve not done any analysis of your case. I haven’t had our investigator look at it. I haven’t war-gamed it with you. I don’t have a freaking clue if I can win your case or not because the information you’re giving me is probably garbage anyways. Everyone thinks that we can come up with a winning strategy on a 15-minute phone call and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Clients will call lawyer to lawyer to lawyer until they hear the advice that they want to hear.
“Hey, I got accused of sexual assault. She was really drunk.
Can you win? Maybe?
I mean, how many times has that ever happened to you, Noel?
Noel: Every day of the week. I mean, I get guys coming in and telling me, “My lawyer that I’ve hired or that has been appointed to me has told me to take a deal. Should I take the deal? Is it a good deal?” I don’t know. I mean, probably, you haven’t even told me what the deal is. You just think that whatever deal that you’ve been offered is a good deal.
3 Steps To Know If Your Case Can Win
- Gather Enough Knowledge About The Case
- Am I The Right Lawyer For You?
- Start To Understand The Facts of the Case
Tim: So, what’s the purpose of the initial consultation?
I think that’s really important to frame that and understand what the purpose of that is. So, you call our office. You get on my calendar. You get on Noel’s calendar. And, it’s really a three-parts of I’d like to break it into three separate parts.
The first is, I wanna know enough about their case, so…and I don’t know is it the case I wanna take on?
Is it a case that’s right for you, or right for me, or right for the firm?
So, are you in the military?
Does it involve a sexual assault?
Does it involve a serious criminal allegation?
Drug trafficking, be it age fraud, that’s a case I’m interested in taking on. And then, I wanna know enough about you to figure out if you’re someone I wanna represent. Are you someone that believes in your case, that’s serious, that knows how to make decisions, that wants to change your future? And so, what the second part of that conversation you just ask me questions.
Noel: I have no freaking clue.
Tim: That’s right.
Noel: They’re never gonna know off of a 15 to 30-minute conversation based upon a story that you’ve given them. You’ve probably practiced it on two, three, four different lawyers. You’ve probably practiced it on your wife, on your mom, on somebody else to see whether or not it’s gonna be a believable case. And if you think that you’re gonna convince me, that I’m gonna be able to win your case on a story that you’ve practiced two, three, four times, it’s a fallacy.
Tim: I have to want to take on your case and you’ve got to want me, or you or both of us to represent you. If we get beyond that, I want your case, you want me to represent you, we figure out what the fees are gonna be, then and only then can we begin a very intentional process to figure out how to win your case. And that usually involves sitting down and doing a debrief. Now, Noel, I want you to talk about what the debrief is.
Noel: Oh, the best part of our firm and working with us is getting our investigator involved in the case so that we can do a full debrief. It’s no different than if you were to go in and do an after-action report or if you were to go into the boss or you go into your colonel or your general’s office, and you’re gonna give them an after-action report on something that happened. It is a intentional debrief with our investigator that’s gonna last hour, two hours…
Tim: I’ve had them less than a day. Or they can be an hour, two hours, or…it really depends. And, that’s a matter of sitting down. If you’re in Honolulu, come down to our office, sit down in the conference room and we’ll set up a time to do that. And if you’re not, we do it over the phone, or Skype, or some other means, and we ask a series of questions to get to understand exactly what’s going on.
To understand the timeline, to understand the players, and then from there, we generate, basically, a defense investigation list of things that need to be done.
Once we can then pour through the discovery, talk to witnesses, get your full side of the story. And once we can start developing all of the facts, then we can sit down and have an honest conversation about the state of your case, whether the plea that your other lawyer told you to take is a good deal or not a good deal, what your risk tolerance is, whether it’s smart to go to trial, how to try the case.
And any lawyer, and I’ll say this again, any lawyer that tells you they can win your case or you have a…they give you a strategy based on a 15 or a 30-minute consultation is probably not being honest with you because it is impossible to do. And not always impossible, I think it’s a little bit reckless.
Consultation With A Court Martial Lawyer
Noel: What you have to understand is the investigative plan. Understanding the facts of the case is the key to developing a strategy. And that’s never gonna happen in the first 15 to 30 minutes…
Tim: Really, the initial consultation with a lawyer, it should be three parts. The first part is, gathering information about your case to make sure it’s a good fit for the firm. The second is, the interview should be with us and tell what do you want to know about me, about Noel, about our firm, our values, our history, our beliefs, how we do business.
And then, if that works and there’s a relationship that can be formed, then and only then and once we’re retained, can we give you an accurate picture of how to put you in the best position possible to win the case. The question we’re not going to be able to answer is, “Hey, I got accused of x. How’s my case look?” That’s not a question any lawyer can answer in the first 15 minutes. It’s about opening up a dialog, having a conversation, and building a relationship.
So, you get to know am I the right lawyer for you? Because having an attorney-client relationship, the most important part about that is what?
The relationship. Don’t ask, “Can you win my case? What’s the strategy?” Because the answer from any honest lawyer is gonna be what, Noel?