White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

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zyxwvut7
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White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby zyxwvut7 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:27 pm

After a bit of time in law school, I've found myself interested in defending white collar criminals. I did a search on white collar crime, but all I can find is a bunch of people saying "Defense attorneys don't make any money." I realize that defending DUI's isn't going to pay off my loans. But does anyone have any insight into white collar criminal defense? Do "biglaw" firms have white collar criminal defense groups that a new associate can get into? It seems like a young associate might be able to join a big firm doing something like this, even if she's not the immediate big shot, but any info would be helpful.

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vamedic03
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby vamedic03 » Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:51 pm

zyxwvut7 wrote:After a bit of time in law school, I've found myself interested in defending white collar criminals. I did a search on white collar crime, but all I can find is a bunch of people saying "Defense attorneys don't make any money." I realize that defending DUI's isn't going to pay off my loans. But does anyone have any insight into white collar criminal defense? Do "biglaw" firms have white collar criminal defense groups that a new associate can get into? It seems like a young associate might be able to join a big firm doing something like this, even if she's not the immediate big shot, but any info would be helpful.


Many big law firms have white collar criminal work, but, most white collar criminal work involves significant internal investigation. My understanding of white collar work (at least from the associate standpoint) is that it is extremely document review / fact intensive. Generally from what I've been told, your goal is to find out what really happened and then come to some sort of agreement with the government. The goal, especially in white collar, is to avoid going to court.

JOThompson
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby JOThompson » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:06 pm

zyxwvut7 wrote:After a bit of time in law school, I've found myself interested in defending white collar criminals. I did a search on white collar crime, but all I can find is a bunch of people saying "Defense attorneys don't make any money." I realize that defending DUI's isn't going to pay off my loans. But does anyone have any insight into white collar criminal defense? Do "biglaw" firms have white collar criminal defense groups that a new associate can get into? It seems like a young associate might be able to join a big firm doing something like this, even if she's not the immediate big shot, but any info would be helpful.

The underlined statement isn't necessarily true. I know an attorney who makes bank doing exclusively DUI defense. It's basically a turnkey operation for him.

Renzo
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby Renzo » Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:55 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Many big law firms have white collar criminal work, but, most white collar criminal work involves significant internal investigation. My understanding of white collar work (at least from the associate standpoint) is that it is extremely document review / fact intensive. Generally from what I've been told, your goal is to find out what really happened and then come to some sort of agreement with the government. The goal, especially in white collar, is to avoid going to court.


This is all pretty much spot-on. DOJ never, ever prosecutes corporations anymore, so all the action is in getting a corporate plea deal worked out, with a little bit of actual criminal defense work on behalf of individuals peppered in. All the biglaw shops that have serious litigation departments do this kind of work.

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vanwinkle
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:05 pm

JOThompson wrote:
zyxwvut7 wrote:After a bit of time in law school, I've found myself interested in defending white collar criminals. I did a search on white collar crime, but all I can find is a bunch of people saying "Defense attorneys don't make any money." I realize that defending DUI's isn't going to pay off my loans. But does anyone have any insight into white collar criminal defense? Do "biglaw" firms have white collar criminal defense groups that a new associate can get into? It seems like a young associate might be able to join a big firm doing something like this, even if she's not the immediate big shot, but any info would be helpful.

The underlined statement isn't necessarily true. I know an attorney who makes bank doing exclusively DUI defense. It's basically a turnkey operation for him.

This is true; if you can get into a major market and become known as "the DUI guy" you can make bank there. However, most of the folks who're so successful at this are because they got there first (marketing-wise at least) and have made themselves well-known as the go-to lawyer for those things.

I think the reason for this is that it was considered morally taboo in at least some areas to help people challenge DUI convictions, so nobody would advertise it as a service. I remember the controversies back home when the first billboards started going up. But again, the first people to do it got well-known fast and made bank...

In any solo practice, if 1) you can win the marketing race and 2) there's a large client base to tap into, you can make bank. The catch is that new opportunities like that don't happen that often and you have to be risky enough to seize them. The more crowded that a geographic area/legal field is, the harder it is to corner a chunk of that market and turn a large profit off it.

scribblehead
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby scribblehead » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:28 pm

Where will you get the 10-15 K a month these DUI mills spend on advertising while also paying back student loans? If you want to make any kind of dent in the market be prepared to drop at least that much $$$.

Also be advised that most of the general public have now learned that DUI is for the most part an unbeatable offense, and fewer and fewer people are pissing away 2-3 K on lawyers when they can just go and grovel themselves for the same result. I was in traffic court the other night and out of 12 DUI cases on calendar only 2 had lawyers (and guess what? both lost their licenses for 3 months just like the folks w/out lawyers!)

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vamedic03
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:32 pm

scribblehead wrote:Where will you get the 10-15 K a month these DUI mills spend on advertising while also paying back student loans? If you want to make any kind of dent in the market be prepared to drop at least that much $$$.

Also be advised that most of the general public have now learned that DUI is for the most part an unbeatable offense, and fewer and fewer people are pissing away 2-3 K on lawyers when they can just go and grovel themselves for the same result. I was in traffic court the other night and out of 12 DUI cases on calendar only 2 had lawyers (and guess what? both lost their licenses for 3 months just like the folks w/out lawyers!)


But, a DUI can be a 'beatable' offense if the officer didn't follow procedure and, since many people who get DUI's are well off and a DUI can be very expensive (re - years of very high insurance premiums), it's worth hiring a lawyer to see if the case falls in that subset.

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Grizz
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby Grizz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:35 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Many big law firms have white collar criminal work, but, most white collar criminal work involves significant internal investigation. My understanding of white collar work (at least from the associate standpoint) is that it is extremely document review / fact intensive. Generally from what I've been told, your goal is to find out what really happened and then come to some sort of agreement with the government. The goal, especially in white collar, is to avoid going to court.


So true. A close family member does white-collar, and has been doing it for 20ish years. I can only recall him going to court 3-4 times.

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Grizz
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby Grizz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:38 pm

vamedic03 wrote:But, a DUI can be a 'beatable' offense if the officer didn't follow procedure and, since many people who get DUI's are well off and a DUI can be very expensive (re - years of very high insurance premiums), it's worth hiring a lawyer to see if the case falls in that subset.


Also this. Used to work for a guy who did DUIs. Contest the stop, contest field sobriety tests, contest procedure, and see if you can stir up enough to get the client a reckless driving plea.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:33 pm

scribblehead wrote:Where will you get the 10-15 K a month these DUI mills spend on advertising while also paying back student loans? If you want to make any kind of dent in the market be prepared to drop at least that much $$$.

Also be advised that most of the general public have now learned that DUI is for the most part an unbeatable offense, and fewer and fewer people are pissing away 2-3 K on lawyers when they can just go and grovel themselves for the same result. I was in traffic court the other night and out of 12 DUI cases on calendar only 2 had lawyers (and guess what? both lost their licenses for 3 months just like the folks w/out lawyers!)


rad law wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:But, a DUI can be a 'beatable' offense if the officer didn't follow procedure and, since many people who get DUI's are well off and a DUI can be very expensive (re - years of very high insurance premiums), it's worth hiring a lawyer to see if the case falls in that subset.


Also this. Used to work for a guy who did DUIs. Contest the stop, contest field sobriety tests, contest procedure, and see if you can stir up enough to get the client a reckless driving plea.


I think a lot of these DUI firms are just chop shops anyways. They'll just do DUI pleas at low rates or flat fees and make their profits through volume. It all depends on the state as well, in IL you can pretty much get away with 2-3 DUIs before you wind up with one on your record if you have a good attorney (i.e. you have the money to dish out to a good attorney). They either just plea them down to reckless driving or get court supervision, meaning the DUI doesn't show up on your record and you only lose your license for the statutory suspension period (I think 90 days after your ticket, which continues until you get to court and get it taken care of). Plea bargaining down to reckless driving or court supervision is where the attorneys make their money -- and the 1st time offenses are usually the easiest since a plea is pretty much guaranteed unless the guy blew something like a .4 or killed someone. But I guess this is how 95% of criminal cases are anyways where the goal isn't to "beat" the offense, but just to settle for the best deal you can get.

vanwinkle wrote:I think the reason for this is that it was considered morally taboo in at least some areas to help people challenge DUI convictions, so nobody would advertise it as a service. I remember the controversies back home when the first billboards started going up. But again, the first people to do it got well-known fast and made bank...


This reminds me of this guy:
Image

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Grizz
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby Grizz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:15 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
rad law wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:But, a DUI can be a 'beatable' offense if the officer didn't follow procedure and, since many people who get DUI's are well off and a DUI can be very expensive (re - years of very high insurance premiums), it's worth hiring a lawyer to see if the case falls in that subset.


Also this. Used to work for a guy who did DUIs. Contest the stop, contest field sobriety tests, contest procedure, and see if you can stir up enough to get the client a reckless driving plea.


I think a lot of these DUI firms are just chop shops anyways. They'll just do DUI pleas at low rates or flat fees and make their profits through volume.


We didn't do volume DUI. This attorney (1 of 2 in the partnership) mainly did general criminal defense (drugs, other misdemeanors, felony drug and other violent crimes, and a healthy amount of federal stuff). DUIs were almost icing. It didn't take a lot of work; charge a few thousand, and most of the work got done by the paralegal.

But the volume DUI guys where I'm from are doing quite well for the reasons you mentioned.

keg411
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby keg411 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:59 pm

Rad, the crimlaw guy you worked for sounds like the one I know. He treats DUI's like icing too (and got a few of his own dismissed :lol: ).

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Grizz
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby Grizz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:12 pm

keg411 wrote:Rad, the crimlaw guy you worked for sounds like the one I know. He treats DUI's like icing too (and got a few of his own dismissed :lol: ).


I cant tell whether I should be pleased or appalled by this haha.

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BriaTharen
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense/BigLaw

Postby BriaTharen » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:50 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
JOThompson wrote:
zyxwvut7 wrote:After a bit of time in law school, I've found myself interested in defending white collar criminals. I did a search on white collar crime, but all I can find is a bunch of people saying "Defense attorneys don't make any money." I realize that defending DUI's isn't going to pay off my loans. But does anyone have any insight into white collar criminal defense? Do "biglaw" firms have white collar criminal defense groups that a new associate can get into? It seems like a young associate might be able to join a big firm doing something like this, even if she's not the immediate big shot, but any info would be helpful.

The underlined statement isn't necessarily true. I know an attorney who makes bank doing exclusively DUI defense. It's basically a turnkey operation for him.

This is true; if you can get into a major market and become known as "the DUI guy" you can make bank there. However, most of the folks who're so successful at this are because they got there first (marketing-wise at least) and have made themselves well-known as the go-to lawyer for those things.

I think the reason for this is that it was considered morally taboo in at least some areas to help people challenge DUI convictions, so nobody would advertise it as a service. I remember the controversies back home when the first billboards started going up. But again, the first people to do it got well-known fast and made bank...

In any solo practice, if 1) you can win the marketing race and 2) there's a large client base to tap into, you can make bank. The catch is that new opportunities like that don't happen that often and you have to be risky enough to seize them. The more crowded that a geographic area/legal field is, the harder it is to corner a chunk of that market and turn a large profit off it.


Very true. There is a well known lawyer in NOLA that is affectionately known as a "Mardi Gras lawyer"-- handles DUIs, indecent exposure, public urination, etc. Makes bank come February/March.




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