If you or a friend are in need of DUI defense, you have likely called around to several firms. For many years, the going rate for defense in Kitsap County has always been the same fee. However, in recent months, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in out of county firms advertising and charging huge legal fees. Some claim to have an office in the area but most do not. Consequently, they don’t come up under organic searches. They run Google Ads that appear at the top or very bottom of page one. There are 2 important differences from outside firms and local Kitsap area law firms:
1. The outside law firms will quote you anywhere from $5000 to $7500 for DUI defense. This is at least double, if not triple, the average price of defense. One reason for this is the cost of rent and advertising for an “outside” law firm. They pass along the high cost of rent in Seattle or Tacoma to their clients. Additionally, to compete with their big city law firms, they must also run ads that cost tens of thousands of dollars more than smaller counties, like Kitsap.
2. The most troubling aspect that we’ve witnessed is the assumption that paying triple the fee is somehow providing the client triple the experience. Sadly, the contrary seems to be true. We’ve seen many very inexperienced attorneys appearing on behalf of these outside area firms.
What to do?
1. Ask if you can meet them in Kitsap County. Do they actually have an office in Kitsap and are they available locally for your needs.
2. Ask for the name of who will appear on your behalf. Be certain that your fee is contingent on the experienced attorney appearing. This means the person has been a former prosecutor and/or done private defense for a minimum of 5 years.
3. Ask for specifics! How many criminal jury trials has your attorney done? Will they try to send someone else on their behalf? Explain that you are not wanting to hire anyone who will then substitute an attorney with experience of less than 5 years and 50 jury trials.
4. Ask if they are familiar with the Kitsap or Bremerton Court pleadings. This is a trick question. Everything is computerized in these courts and, from our observations, none of the out of county defense attorneys know how to use the local programs. This exposes their inexperience in Court and is a big disadvantage.
If the firm cannot answer these questions or will not guarantee the experience of their attorneys, keep calling around!
Normally, we would let the competition fade out on their own mistakes. However, we have taken numerous calls from outside firms asking Ryan to cover their hearings. They take an enormous legal fee and then ask local attorneys to do a “professional courtesy” by appearing at the Arraignment and other pretrial hearings for their clients. They simply are not doing the work. Then, when they can’t get the case dismissed or strike a compromise with the prosecutor, they try to charge another enormous trial fee. It’s terrible for the client and terrible for our profession.