I have been practicing law for almost 32 years, and if I were looking to find a good attorney in Orange County, character, wisdom and experience would be the three qualities that I would look for in a good attorney.
By character, I mean moral and ethical strength. The willingness to stand up for principle over time and to remain beyond approach. To the client, that means the strength to be honest about your chances of winning or losing a case without regardless of the potential fees involved. I am constantly told about prior lawyers who guarantee that the client’s case was winnable. This practice is not ethical. An attorney can give an opinion, but cannot guarantee a result.
Character also means that the attorney will not confuse his or her own reputation with the allegations of the client. An attorney is an advocate and is charged with placing his or her client in the best light possible. An attorney cannot assume or identify with his client’s character traits.
Above all, an attorney must maintain confidentiality and loyalty.
In most cases, any reasonably intelligent person can read and understand a written statute or appellate decision. It is important for an attorney, however, to a possess sense of timing and knowledge that goes beyond the written law. An attorney must have a knowledge and a sense of the “Conscience of the community” , the level of risk involved and a sense of timing akin to that of a “Riverboat gambler”. This type of wisdom is developed through experience both in and out of the legal field.
There is no better teacher than actual experience - good and bad. A good trial attorney should be able to “Kick some butt” if he or she must, but still be knowledgeable as to the risks involved. Trials are extremely unpredictable. Litigants are presenting their cases to twelve persons whom they have never met and who carry a bucketful of preconceived notions into the court room which many are unwilling to admit even to themselves.
Any lawyer who brags about having a “90% success rate” is probably full of crap. The number of variables in any case, whether civil or criminal, are too numerous and too subjective so that even a person with a Ph.D. in statistics would not attempt to quantify them or come up with a success rate. I have won cases that I should have lost. I have had cases dismissed when my client should have gone to prison or jail. I have also had my clients turn down great plea bargains offered and gone to trial and wish they would have taken the plea offered. I have also been in situation where my client had nothing to lose by trying the case and went to prison. A good trial lawyer can go to trial but has experienced enough losses in his or her career so that the pain and strife of a loss is a real experience to him or her.
Part of trial practice and litigation, therefore, is a function of being able to analyze risk and communicate that to the client.
I have been a criminal defense attorney for about 32 years and have come to know that there is an art to criminal defense:
As a criminal defense lawyer with 32 years of experience, here is what I would look for if I were accused of a crime:
Every criminal case is serious. Potential employers, potential landlords and others are doing background checks. The list of crimes is increasing every day. Twenty years ago, domestic violence was serious but not overly emphasized in the grand scheme of the criminal justice system. Is it wrong? Of course it, is but thanks to O.J. Simpson and Marsha Clark, every police department, District Attorney’s office and branch has a special unit devoted to “DV” and it can serious consequences on whether you get hired or if your involved in a divorce. The point is that every crime is serious and deserves to dealt with accordingly.
At the law offices of Charles M. Farano, every offense is treated as a serious matter each of the client’s options is analyzed and explained.
Choosing a good business, real estate or civil trial lawyer is much like choosing a good criminal defense attorney.
There are some differences. First, except for white collar crimes and other exceptions, business, real estate and civil litigation is usually more complex than criminal law. Thus proving and defending the case will often require the extensive use of expert witnesses. The attorney, thus, should have developed the art of examining and cross examining expert witnesses.
Second, unlike criminal cases where the accused personal freedom is at stake, business, real estate and civil cases are usually about money and the lawyer should be able to adopt a more pragmatic business-like approach to the case. Pursuing a business, real estate or civil case should be treated more like an investment. What will be the amount invested and what are the possible returns. If you are defending the case or are facing a potential case, the lawyer should be able to manage the risk and only go to trial when necessary.
Again, if I were a business executive or owned my own business, here is what I would look for in an attorney:
Judges and experts all advocate that family court is non-adversarial. Seldom are people more adversarial, however, than after they have been unhappy for several years and develop “Irreconcilable differences". Usually, the only time that people become involved in the legal system in when they divorce.
Many aspects of family law involve real estate and business – thus a good family lawyer should have the same skills as a business litigator. While the trials do not take place before juries, superior trial skills are essential. Choosing a family lawyer is much like choosing business or real estate litigator.
The lawyer must know the law and procedures, and he or she must have credibility with the judges and other lawyers in the same field. The lawyer must be reasonable and a person that people like and can get along with, but not a wimp or a push over. The lawyer must be able to go to trial if you must.
There are some differences in a non-adversarial system. A family lawyer should be able to actively participate in a mediation designed to encourage parties to work together regarding issues like raising the children and work towards resolving non-essential issues. When there is a dispute dividing a multi-million dollar business, the parties must be encouraged not to waste time bantering about “Pots and pans". A good attorney will help focus the action on the bigger picture to get a suitable conclusion to the divorce or other proceeding.
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"I searched for months before I was able to locate Chuck Farano and boy was I glad I did! He has the trial experience that I needed and the willingness go to the mat if necessary. At the same time, he was the most skillful negotiator I have ever encountered and I have dealt with attorneys in my business for over twenty years."