Law Offices of Chris Raesz, P.C.

So.... you need an attorney. What do you need to look for in hiring an attorney?

General

I have been involved in many varied civil and criminal trials and appeals. That is what I have done since 1991. I have more than 20 years experience in the courthouses - State and Federal - in Texas. Whether it is a trial or an appeal, I have a broad range of experience. That is why I know that not every case is for every lawyer. Most of what you need to know is that you need to trust the attorney representing you to tell you the truth about the facts and the law in a way that you can understand and to work the case to the best of his/her ability. You need to speak personally with any attorney you think is a fit and make sure. Just as every attorney is not a fit for every client, not every attorney is capable of properly representing a particular client.

Be Careful

There are attorneys that will do anything to get your money. In the end, if they don't have the right make up to properly represent you, you will be punished by the legal system (not that it won't happen anyway [check out the Wild Ideas link above] but, if you're going to spend money on an attorney, it shouldn't be automatic). Be careful in hiring an attorney based on the size of the firm. Sometimes this is clearly appropriate. Sometimes the big firms have big overhead and have to charge big fees for a lot of "effort" that does not help you at all. Some solo-practitioners do the same.

Your starting point

The legal system is very complicated. If it were easy it wouldn't require a law license to be an attorney. Unfortunately, having a law license doesn't mean that you know what you are doing. Don't get me wrong, every profession has the same problem. Plumbers, electricians, doctors, accountants, auto mechanics..... The problem is that, from a legal standpoint, having the right person represent you can make a difference. I don't pretend to know all there is to know about the law. Any attorney that does you should avoid. I will go look, though, and I will tell you that I don't know. So will others. Hire one of us. Keep in mind that what seems to be correct today is not correct tomorrow. It makes the practice of law very difficult from a predictability point of view. The appellate courts seem to undo YEARS of law which makes it very difficult to predict any outcome with any measure of certainty. I wish it weren't so, but that is where we are. Find an attorney that will try his/her best to help you with the understanding that what is thought to be the best today may not be what is the best tomorrow. That is how this works. Sorry. Any attorney that won't admit this to you you should not hire. If, after speaking with you about your case, I do not believe I am the proper attorney to represent you, I will tell you. Sometimes this has nothing to do with you or your case, but it has more to do with what I have done and my history in the legal system. I have fought the government and large entities.... sometimes a client needs an attorney that hasn't made them all mad. In the end, it is about you, the client, in terms of what makes the decision. Again, if an attorney does not put this in the forefront, you should probably look for another attorney to represent you.

Criminal cases

If you are seeking an attorney in Denton County for a criminal matter, be careful. I have been here since 1992.... this is a VERY conservative county. Dallas is a different world. Just like Fort Worth. Do not think that the same rules apply here. They don't. The prosecutors regularly hear "In Dallas this is what they would do".... and??? They simply don't care and the juries typically prove them right. You need someone in Denton that understands what the scheme is and you can trust to help you within that scheme. Just make sure you hire someone that is not afraid to take a case to trial. There are others that will try anything... just because. Ask the question - "when is the last time you tried a case and why?". If you have a case that you think can be tried and you don't ask that question, you may end up regretting it. Understand that (in Denton County) the conviction rates are VERY high and it is typically not in a defendant's best interest to try a case. This flavors the situation just a little. There are many attorneys that are willing to say what it takes to get your money, but are not willing to do what it takes to try a case properly. Please don't get me wrong.... there are VERY good attorneys both in and out of the court appointment system that will do exactly what they are supposed to... there are others that won't. Be careful... this is your life we are talking about. In hiring an attorney for any criminal matter, you need to be comfortable that your interests are placed first and that, taking everything into account, your attorney is providing you their opinion based on those interests being placed first.

Board Certified Attorneys

This brings me to "board certification". In your search, you will find attorneys that are "board certified" in both civil and criminal areas, this means they took a test to achieve that certification. Some board certified attorneys are truly trying to be the best in their field and want to be able to show their expertise and they really do have that expertise. Some crammed the information into their heads long enough to take the test and use the label as a pure marketing tool so they can demand more money for the same representation you would get from any licensed attorney. The simple truth is either an attorney cares to properly represent his/her clients or not. Certification is not necessarily an indicator of that care. Be careful in relying on the label of certification. I have tried cases against attorneys with many more years experience and won. I have tried cases against board certified attorneys and won. Not because I am smarter than they are, not because I am in any way superior. I put the effort in and had the facts to work with. You want an attorney that will put the effort in and that will tell you when the facts are or are not going to help you because you need to make the right decisions based on the opinion of your attorney. It's your life, your money, your property, not the attorney's.

Trials

Trial cases are difficult... trial work is significantly harder than most types of office practice due to the fights involved and the instantaneous decisions needed to be made in trial. Many cases, mostly civil, that I have been involved with have had significant problems due to the fact that the judge has no experience in the civil world. The criminal ones can get to be a problem based on politics and the nature of the issues involved. Juries are typically a crap shoot. Then there is the inability to control the attorney representing the other side. While I do not agree that this is the way our legal system should function, it is the reality of the situation. No single attorney will be able to change or radically alter that part of the legal system. As a society, we have this system and you need to hire an attorney that you believe in and trust to work for you in this system. If you are in need of a trial, make sure you hire an attorney that understands the ins and outs of trial work.

Closing thoughts

Essentially, this page is to tell you to look around.... ask questions.... try to figure out if the attorney has even tried or appealed a case... filed motions... prepared jury charge questions... prepared motions for trial... had hearings... had oral argument... similar to the case that you are involved in.... do they take every case regardless of their experience... Please also know that location does matter. Knowing the court personnel, knowing the way to the courthouse and simply avoiding an attorney charging you for the time it takes to travel to a remote courthouse are factors you need to consider and I regularly make it a point to make sure this is part of the consideration. I have taken cases and been successful in counties other than Denton, but those are not common as I do believe that hiring a local attorney is typically in the client's best interest. In the end, if I can't help you, I will work to find you someone that can.

Where do you want to be? What do you want out of your attorney? If you want someone that will fight for you in the legal system (civil or criminal), call my office.

In the event you wish to utilize e-mail as a method of contact, please provide your e-mail address, your home address (including state), the full name of all parties involved and your current attorney. If all of this information is not provided, no response will be forthcoming. Please be advised that e-mail is not a secure method to transmit information. For this reason, we request that you do not transmit any sensitive or confidential information via e-mail.
To contact us:

Chris Raesz, P.C.
306 North Carroll Blvd.
Denton, Texas 76201
Phone: 940.380.9505
Fax: 940.382.2065
E-mail: office at chrisraeszpc.com

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© 2009 Chris Raesz, P.C.