Originally Posted by NakedYoga
Astan, I was sort of in a similar situation as you, having just taken and passed the Bar exam this past July. If your weekdays are currently free, something you might want to try is hanging around your local municipal/city court (or even state court) during sessions of criminal appearances. Wear a suit, bring business cards, have pens and paper, etc. at the ready. You can very likely pick up some clients with extremely simple (to you) legal problems. I'm talking about simple misdemeanors like simple possession of marijuana, criminal trespassing, things like that. Offer to represent them for a flat rate, say, something like $300-$500. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew with a charge that will result in a full-blown trial if you enter a not guilty plea, as you won't be able to afford it.
The first time I did this, I agreed to represent a guy facing a trumped-up criminal domestic violence charge for a flat $500. He didn't have much money, but he paid me $200 up front and then $50 a month until the balance was paid. I basically interviewed him, the complainant (his fiancee), and talked the prosecutor into deferring his case for 90 days and then dismissing it, and modifying the conditions of his bond. It really isn't very difficult for someone who isn't a complete legal idiot. It's not glamorous by any means, but you're also likely to make valuable connections with other lawyers or get referrals from your clients. With these types of cases, the prosecutors want to get them off their docket just as much as the defendant wants them to go away. Anyway, something to think about.
If you entertain the idea of doing low level criminal work, you must do this stuff first so as not to fuck it up:
1. Watch a few day's worth of local criminal dockets and learn the customary litanies (advisement of rights and so forth on the record) that you'll need to make.
2. Read the rules of pro res concerning when representation starts, ends, and what your duties are. How does representation work when grandma pays you to rep junior? Think really hard abut this shit.
3. Create a written fee agreement based on models you find in the law library. Get motherfuckers to sign it before you start lawyering.
4. Then get money up front. All of it.
5. Don't promise shit about the outcome of court shit.
6. Establish a good system for keeping your case files.
7. Look for conflicts of interest and do not put yourself in a conflict situation that wasn't or can't be waived.
8. Handle money with terrific care and in precise accord with the rules. Fucking this up is how you get disbarred.
9. Make sure you do not rely on your client's version of the facts of his case or on his recollection of his criminal record.
10. Always talk to the cops who did the arrest. Be sure to tell them you think your client is an asshole.
11. Act like you know everything and everyone at all times.
PS I had a client go down for 6 years today on an assault! He actually drove to court and walked in the front door a free man. He left by the back door, wearing cuffs. My original guess was that his was a probation case. I did everything right. Judge got it wrong. What made it OK is that I was not late for my 2pm squash court reservation.