Hiring an In-Town Lawyer vs. an Out of Town Attorney
To hire an in town attorney, or out of town attorney? That is the question. I think Shakespeare asked that in Hamlet….or, something like that.
All joking aside, we at Banks & Brower, LLC, are constantly asked this question when people call in looking for advice on who to hire. “Should I hire an out of county attorney, or should I hire an attorney on the county square of where my case is pending?” they often ask. This is the million dollar question with a 10-cent answer. It depends we often say — but, usually it’s not as important as it used to be.
Why would it depend? Because, each case is different, each client is different, each set of facts is different, each prosecutor or opposing attorney is different, each judge is different, each county is different….well, you get the picture. What may be the rule in one case may not be the rule in another. And, when all is said and done, personal preference often depends on if you like the lawyer you have found to hire and how good that lawyer is at convincing you that the lawyer’s location doesn’t matter.
These questions often come from people calling about their cases in small towns and small counties. Many times they will say, “I feel like the prosecutor/opposing attorney, the judge, and my lawyer all are friends, and have beers together in this small county. I want an outsider who will fight for me.” Or, the person on the phone will say, “I want someone who has beers with the judge, because I think that will help my case.” And, in all honesty, both people are right, again, depending on the circumstances and the person’s preferences. But people will also call on cases in large counties as well. They will say, “I want an experienced attorney who is used to large county politics, and knows how the system works.” Or, to the contrary, “I feel like the big time lawyers in large counties have lost touch, and they won’t care about my case.”
In all honesty, in 95% of the cases, the location of the attorney doesn’t matter. We don’t live in the 1800’s anymore where people had to hire an in town attorney, as there were no other options. In today’s legal market, it’s the lawyer that matters, not where they are. And, with technology, you can find just about any attorney practicing law in Indiana, and in so doing, find out about where they have been, what they practice, what clients think of them, and so on. All within a few short seconds, and a few clicks around the internet.
As such, in today’s legal world, the question isn’t where is the lawyer’s office located, it is, who is this attorney, and how good are they? What do other clients say about them? Are they successful? Are they experienced? Do you they know the system where my case is pending well enough to maneuver around? Have they at least had a case in my court before? Do they know the players, the prosecutors, the opposing attorneys? Are they respected by these people? Those are the questions you should ask yourself, not does my lawyer’s office have a line of site to the county courthouse.
In fact, most of the greatest, highly respected attorneys in the state venture all over the state to practice. And, the longer they practice, the more experience they have in all of the counties — thus making them recognizable and respected by county courts outside of their central location and within.
Yet, there are times when location might matter. Cost is often saved by smaller town attorneys in smaller counties. They often live, work, and practice mostly in the county where they are located. That sometimes allows them to shave costs given the time saved. Yet, the cost savings aren’t always that significant unless your attorney is travelling hours to get from their office to your location or the court’s. Some might also argue that having an attorney on the square is important for convenience purposes — you can meet them at their offices and walk over to court, or there might not be an expense for filing as they can walk pleadings over to the courthouse. Again, this is personal preference, and not always applicable, especially with e-filing in some counties and the ability to file pleadings in person when the attorney is visiting the county for other cases. Lastly, sometimes having an attorney who knows the players well really matters. Sometimes they can call in favors, or have access to the courts, judges, prosecutors, or other players that others might not have. Yet, again, most respected attorneys who travel throughout the state have similar relationships with people throughout the entire state, especially if they have being doing it a while.
In the end, what really matters is experience and your feeling of being looked after by the attorney. Nothing matters more than those two things. Location never trumps the attorney’s skills. Never. A good attorney can always achieve whatever is possible, regardless of whether or not they eat lunch with prosecutors or have a beer with the judge on occasion. While there are limited times that location may matter, in today’s 21st Century, and with the technology available at good firms for their clients, location is becoming an afterthought. So, do your research, call around to all the attorneys you see as experienced enough, respected enough, and reviewed enough by former clients. Then, choose based on the one that gives you the best feeling. While they may not be the cheapest or most local, the best stays the best no matter where they are sitting in their office. Plus, an attorney who is always in their office, is often an attorney who isn’t retained very often. Contact the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower to consult on your criminal case in Indiana regardless of what county it is in.