In the summer of 2000 I resigned after several years as a prosecutor and opened my own law firm for criminal defense. At that time, a couple of things were very much on my mind and formed the foundation of my practice. First of all, I had not agreed with some of the practices in my current prosecutor’s office (I was not working in Washington at the time). I thought the office was accepting some cases that were not fully investigated and some cases that included obvious violations of the defendant’s rights. I had gotten in trouble for sending some of these cases back to law enforcement and had butted heads with my supervisor. On one memorable day, law enforcement had complained to my supervisor because I was asking for more work on a case. My supervisor told me not to worry about it, “because it will probably plead out anyway.” And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Prosecution in this country should never be about mediocrity. It should never be about shrugging away a person’s rights because the case “will probably plead out.” Prosecutors, in my opinion, have a moral and ethical obligation to protect both crime victims and the persons accused of committing the crimes. However, the reality is that the government – the prosecution – does not always work this way. As a prosecutor, I could only protect the defendants on my own case load. But as a defense attorney, I can constantly fight to protect the rights of defendants day in and day out, even if I do not happen to represent them. This is a task that I love, because that task fits in seamlessly with my own values. I can aggressively attack illegal searches and seizures, and try to combat the “bad cops” who (like bad lawyers, or the bad of any group), do exist. So the cornerstone of my practice philosophy is to oversee the government, and try to eliminate government misconduct by zealously protecting and representing each of my clients to my best ability.
The second factor in play back in 2000 was that I lived a long way from my mom, and I worried about her. I found myself thinking about what I would want for my mom out of a lawyer, if she ever needed to call one. So I built my practice to be the kind of attorney I would want for my mom. This thought process is what led me to the “Skills and Attributes” that are listed elsewhere on this web site, because I would want my mom’s attorney to be all of those things. And I believe I am all of those things. I want to help people navigate through the complexities of the criminal justice system, try to offer them choices and solutions, and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in a very difficult time. I want them to be able to get me on the phone when they call, and not have to miss work to meet with me. I have the luxury of being flexible with my hours, so I simply try to be available when my clients need me. I’m a regular person, with a family I love and worry about, so I can imagine what a defendant is going through. I try to team up with my clients and help. I cannot promise a particular result, but I do promise to work very hard, care very much, and ensure that my clients have complete, accurate information.
OFFICE HOURS: I am always open. It’s that simple. I want to be available to my clients whenever they need me, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I am. Because I am the boss, I can manage my own time and my own availability. You may need to call your attorney on the weekend, or in the evenings after you leave your job, or bright and early as you drive to your job. So, I choose to be there for you. I have chosen to forward my office phone to my home or cell when I am away from the office. That way, if you need me, you simply call, and your call will find me. (To be perfectly honest, I don’t want phone calls after 8:30 pm. But if you are my client and you need me right now and it can’t wait until 7 am, then you call me. I will answer. And no, there is no extra charge for this service.)
Now, of course, I cannot truly be “always available,” because what if I am in court when you call? What if I am in a meeting with another client, or on the phone? So, ok, my system is imperfect when it bumps up against other realities. But the bottom line is that, if you call me and I do not PERSONALLY ANSWER THE PHONE, then you know I am truly tied up. If I am in the office and on the phone, you will hear the old-fashioned busy signal. Please simply call back in a few minutes, or shoot me an email right then. (Right now, I do not roll these calls to voicemail. If that proves too inconvenient, I will add voicemail for calls that arrive while I am on the line.) If I cannot get to the phone at all, you will get the chance to leave me a voicemail. I check messages immediately when I become available, and will call you back right away.
ATTORNEY FLEXIBILITY: Along with offering weekend availability and being flexible with my hours, I am flexible in my locations, too. I do not have a specific building which houses my office. Instead, I am more “virtual,” and I have access to several locations around the county where I can meet confidentially with clients. Now, this situation offers certain advantages. For one thing, it cuts down my office overhead significantly, so when you are comparing attorneys, you will probably find my prices lower – not because I lack expertise, but because I lack overhead! I pass these savings on to my clients. Another advantage to a more virtual office is that I created my practice with the expectation that I would be going to my clients, rather than sitting at my desk waiting for clients to come to me. So this means that I will come to you and meet you in a location that is more convenient to you, such as one of the conference rooms I can access around the county, or your workplace, or a coffee shop, or food court at the mall, or a park – clients have chosen some lovely and interesting locations for me throughout the years! I have never had an issue with my virtual office law practice, and I have used it for many years since I started my first private practice in 2000. Most clients find that this style of practice makes it easier on them, both practically and financially.
FEES: I make my fee decisions on a case by case basis, after complete consultation with the client. As with any expert, my twenty-plus years of experience do not come at a bargain price. But just as I would hope for my mom, I set my fee as low as reasonably possible and any savings I can create are passed on to my clients. For instance, my “virtual office” approach means that I have very little overhead. Right out of the gate, then, I need to charge less than other attorneys, even with all of my experience. I typically bill criminal cases at a flat rate which covers the entire case, so my clients have the peace of mind of knowing that an unexpected twist or turn in the case will not require them to reach for their wallets again. Additionally, I can accept PayPal and credit cards.
When you pay an attorney, as when you pay a doctor, you are not paying just for the time you spend with that professional, but you are also purchasing the knowledge and experience that attorney walks into the room with. I believe I offer a basis of experience and education that is unsurpassed in Whatcom County, and I combine that with a quality work ethic and the dedication and desire to fight for accused persons. I will treat you the way I would want my mom to be treated.