Sleazy Attorneys and their “arraignment letters”

A couple of days ago a client called me really upset.  This particular client has a very good job, she is well educated, has a nice career with Microsoft, and she has never been in trouble before.  However she has been charged with a DUI in King County that can completely derail everything she has worked so hard for.  She hasn’t told anyone of this situation except her fiance and of course me, her attorney.  She is incredibly embarrassed by this situation, she is nervous and worried about what will happen if her family, friends, and employer find out about it.  She has never been in trouble before, not even gotten a speeding ticket.  Its a really difficult situation for her, as it is for anyone who has been charged with a DUI in King County.

So she called me on my personal cell phone and she sounded really upset.  I was worried something was wrong, maybe something had happened to her or her family.  She then told me that she was out of town for a week or so, and between that time and this phone call she had gotten approximately 20 letters and/or brochures from other attorneys claiming to be a DUI attorney, and offering their legal services (since that phone call she has been getting roughly 2-3 letters a day)

Now this is nothing a new, since I became a lawyer, I have known of 1 law firm that did this.  And this particular firm doesn’t have a good reputation in the community, and I personally think the owner is not a good guy and gives attorneys a bad name.  But thats another topic.  So I was quite surprised when she said she had gotten over 20 letters in the course of a week from 20 different law firms.

After I was able to tell her to ignore these letters and that I consider these attorneys to be the ambulance chasers of criminal defense.  In other words there work is so bad, that former clients never refer them business, and they have to dupe innocent people by sending these arraignment letters and solicit their crappy law firm.  Much like a personal injury attorney follows an ambulance and then asked the injured party if they slipped and fell.  That is what these guys do.  It kind of started to irritate me these guys get away with this.

The Rules of Professional Conduct govern a lawyers behavior and sets certain rules we are supposed to follow.  One thing I never understood is how these arraignment letter attorneys are not in violation of RPC 7.3.  RPC 7.3 states a lawyer shall not, directly, or through a third person, by in person, live telephone, or real time electronic contact solidity professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyers doing so is the lawyers pecuniary gain.

Im not quite how these guys get around this rule.  I guess the State Bar Association feels the wording in these letters is not soliciting business, but some kind of a heads up a criminal charge has been filed, and oh by the way I happen to be a DUI attorney type thing.  I don’t know, and I used to not really care.  But when they are start sending letters to my clients, people who have trusted me to help them in their time of need.  It gets me a little upset that they have to deal with these jerkoffs.

Being charged with a criminal offense is embarrassing enough.  Coming home from a hard day of work and finding 2-3 letters a day reminding you of this incident and soliciting your business is ridiculous.  Im sorry there are people out there who do this. Im sorry there are attorneys out there claiming to be DUI lawyers who don’t care about the privacy rights of my clients and the many other people facing a DUI charge.  And Im sorry these attorneys only view these people as dollar signs, and have no real interest in legitimately caring for them and fighting on their behalf.