We are Not Former Prosecutors
Browsing the web, you will run across constant reminders from some criminal defense lawyers that they were former prosecutors. They will pitch their status as former prosecutors to you on variations of the theme that they have some inside secret knowledge that they can and will use to your advantage.
This requires a response.
Another way of describing their status as former prosecutors might be as follows: "Until a short time ago, it was my job to do everything in my power to make sure your case ended however I wanted it to end, including possibly with you getting a criminal record and jail time. Now that it suits my current career move, I promise to use all my secret inside knowledge to do exactly the opposite from what I have spent my previous career doing."
This is a marvelous example of a marketing strategy of turning something that could be perceived as negative into something that could be perceived as positive. How do you reconcile spending your entire previous career doing the exact opposite of what you now do? You promise to use secret inside knowledge for the benefit of your new client.
The truth is that being a Criminal defense lawyer is as different a job from being a prosecutor as it is from being a candlestick maker.
Right off the top, as a general rule, prosecutors quickly get used to having things go their way. For any number of reasons, right, or wrong, the system is geared toward advancing the cause of the prosecutors. It's just the way it is in a million subtle and some quite unsubtle ways. As a defense lawyer, therefore, you have to learn to take a punch. You have to learn not to fall apart when absolutely everything doesn't go your way or how you planned it would go. It takes time to get there. It takes experience.
The notion that prosecutors are imbued with some sort of secret knowledge that they will use to your advantage is appealing, perhaps, but in practice downright ludicrous.
Because if you penetrate the appealing marketing notion of hiring the insider former prosecutor to engage the very office he or she recently left, what are you really left with? What do you think is really and truly going to happen? Do you really think that your insider former prosecutor is going to call up his old buddy at the office on a secret phone and get you some kind of special favor or treatment? Really? You really think that is going to happen?
First of all, this is illegal. Do you really think that your former prosecutor is going to commit a crime because of what you paid him or her in your single case? Do you really think that would be worth it? If caught, that means he would not only be arrested himself, but his license to practice law forever after would be in jeopardy? Do you really think that is going to happen? Second, remember that it takes two here. Not only are you counting on your former prosecutor lawyer to commit a crime for you, but you are counting on some third party you don't know who is currently a prosecutor also committing a crime. Where is the incentive for this?
Further, the prosecutors who I know and deal with are as a general rule quite an ethical group of people. I would be appalled to discover that even one of them did such a thing, ever once. In fact, if I had a nickel for every time a current prosecutor has complained to me about some former prosecutors constantly finding ways to remind them of their former status, I would be a far wealthier man.
So if there is no undercurrent of criminal influence peddling in play, then what? Is it possible that the former prosecutor will have some super secret knowledge unavailable to every defense lawyer? Like what? Really? What vast reservoir of insider information will be in play? The answer is "none."
Experience being a prosecutor is not experience being a defense lawyer in the same way that experience being a professional baseball catcher is not experience being a professional baseball pitcher. It involves many similar issues, of course, and they work in the same place, but it is an entirely different mindset, with an entirely different set of goals, and an entirely different set of skills,. It is just different.
The Story of the Farmer, the Fox, and the Dog
A wise old farmer kept losing chickens to foxes, something that had never happened before on this farmer's farm. He placed an ad around the area, looking for a security guard. There were two applicants.
The first applicant was a dog. The dog came highly recommended from another farmer who had been employing the dog to guard his chickens for years. The dog had never eaten or attacked a chicken, ever, not even once. The dog had proven himself to be quite a match for foxes.
Much to the farmer's surprise, the second applicant was a fox. The fox explained that he was tired of the life of a fox, all the sneaking around, avoiding the dogs, stealing and eating chickens on the run, and bad behavior. He longed for what seemed to him to be the easy life of the dog staying in one place, getting free meals given to him, only in exchange for chasing away foxes. He told the farmer that he knew all the fox tricks, and even knew most of the local foxes, and would easily be able to catch them at their tricks or use his friendship with them to convince them to go elsewhere.
The farmer thanked the fox and the dog for their applications and thought about his options.
After thinking about it, he had to admit to himself that he was tempted to hire the fox to guard his chickens.
But the wise old farmer hired the dog.
We have never prosecuted anyone. We have never put anyone in the position you may find yourself or a loved one in right now. Instead, we have devoted the last 25 years to helping people accused of crimes in New York.
This isn't a marketing strategy. This isn't some search engine optimizer's idea of turning a negative into a positive for purposes of a web marketing campaign.
No marketing. No tricks. No subtle suggestions of ludicrous illegal influence peddling.
It's just experience, plain and simple.