“Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, including strength of the evidence, jurisdiction and skill of opposing counsel. Case results do not guarantee and cannot even predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer.”
The Virginia State Bar requires any lawyer who wants to advertise their case results to provide clients with that disclaimer in bold, uppercase letters before listing their results.
Everybody would obviously want to hire a lawyer who always wins. The mythical litigator who can find a way to win even when his client was caught on camera holding the smoking gun and provides a full written confession. Unfortunately, that isn’t realistic. But some attorneys will try to portray themselves that way in advertising. They do this by selecting a very few number of cases and providing limited context. This isn’t an effective way to determine whether a lawyer is good or not. If you are required by law to state that the results listed cannot predict what will happen in the future, then what possible purpose does it provide?
The following two scenarios of cases handled by attorney Faraji Rosenthall show why case results are meaningless at best and misleading at worst.
A panicked family member hired me to represent her son on his DWI third charge. The charge carried at least 6 months in jail if convicted and could potentially run up to 5 years. For whatever reason, the son failed to realize the seriousness of the charge and hid it from his family. He finally came clean with his mother late on the Friday afternoon, just days before his Monday hearing. I met with the family over the weekend, told them I would be happy to take the case, but obviously I would need much more time to prepare. I went into the hearing on Monday prepared to ask to the judge to simply reschedule the case to provide me more time to review the evidence and prepare a defense strategy.
Fortunately for this client when I arrived in court on Monday we learned that the arresting officer had been arrested over the weekend on charges of corruption. The government was no longer using him as a witness in cases and was agreeing to dismiss all his charges.
In that scenario, I can honestly advertise that I was hired to represent a client who had a very high BAC and a number of prior DWIs on his record. I could also say that he was looking at months if not years in jail and a felony conviction on his record. I could proudly put that on my website and say that I was able to get that charge dismissed and removed from his record. All those things are technically true, but they are so misleading as to be meaningless. It is for just that reason that case results out of context are meaningless.
Client is charged with several counts related to multiple burglaries. His record is extensive for this same sort of crime and he has spent a great deal of time in prison. He is being held in jail and is very likely expecting that he will be looking at a very lengthy prison sentence of 20 – 30 years. Additionally, the evidence against him is strong, he had actually been caught with a number of stolen items a short time after another burglary had taken place. Despite aggressive negotiation with the Prosecutor, the Government wants him to go to jail for 20 years. We reject that offer and begin preparing for trial. In the interim our research indicates that a case may be making its way to the Supreme Court of the United States that may provide a sliver of hope that a technicality may exist that will help his case. We adjust our strategy to try to delay to allow time for the Supreme Court to make their ruling.
The Supreme Court case comes down and while it’s not as great as we had hoped it does at least provide an argument that we can make, even if it is a longshot. We then pour through the Supreme Court ruling as well as several rulings over the last 20 years. We file a motion that puts together hours of excruciatingly detailed and well-argued legal theories about why this technicality should apply in our client’s favor. The motion is so well presented that the Government gets scared and reduces the amount of jail time they would agree to from 20 years down to 5 years. The client agrees and happily serves a sentence that was reduced 75% based on our hard work. He is now a client for life and recommends us to everyone he knows if they get in trouble. Getting a 5 year sentence doesn’t show up well on a website. It takes context to understand the sweat and tears that went into getting him those 15 years of his life back. But that’s the essence of practicing law.
It isn’t that you are a magical lawyer who just shows up and automatically gets everything dismissed. If that lawyer existed, he would be the wealthiest man on Earth. The actual essence of providing quality representation is having the knowledge, ability and desire to put forth the best defense money can buy for each and every client every time. That is what we do every day at the Law Office of Faraji Rosenthall. And we don’t use misleading case results to try to prove it.