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Should you hire an attorney who wears a Rolex watch?

The most difficult decision a client faces is choosing an attorney, because the client only has limited knowledge about each attorney, such as the law school attended, years of experience, and practice areas.  From this limited infomation, the client essentially makes a hiring decision based upon an educated guess as to which attorney will best serve his or her needs.  

Let’s make the hiring decision even more difficult.  Imagine you must choose between 2 attorneys, but the only infomation you know is that one attorney wears a $5,000 Rolex watch and that the other attorney wears a $250 Seiko watch.  Should you choose the Rolex attorney, because the expensive watch may be an indicator of success?   Or should you choose the Seiko attorney, because the inexpensive watch shows that the attorney is not concerned about projecting an image of success?

I personally would choose the attorney with the Seiko watch.   Many lawyers deliberately attempt to create the impression that they are successful by displaying their extravagant lifestyle.  They drive high-end luxury vehicles, wear designer clothes and expensive jewelry, and live in high priced homes.  The problem arises when lawyers live beyond their means.  Such lawyers have a dysfunctional incentive to take on more cases than he or she can possibly handle.  The hallmark of an overextended lawyer is providing low quality legal service to a high number of clients and charging excessive fees.  This explains why many attorneys in Rockville and Bethesda charge in excess of $400 per hour.

A non-materialistic lawyer is not concerned with creating the impression that he or she is successful by displaying ostentatious badges of wealth.  The hallmark of a non-materialistic lawyer is providing high quality legal services to a small number of clients.  Such lawyers can afford to turn away business, because they are not burdened with an extravagant lifestyle overhead.   More importantly, non-materialistic lawyers are able to charge lower fees.

For the full article on the 15 essential questions that a client must ask before retaining an attorney, see http://www.thumbtack.com/md/germantown/attorney/family-lawyer-business-attorney-and-litigator

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Article by Stewart A. Sutton featured in the Maryland Bar Journal:
Emotional Distress Damages - Recoverable in Legal Malpractice Actions
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Law Office of Stewart Andrew Sutton, LLC
8 Executive Park Court
Germantown, Maryland 20874
Telephone: 301-916-5000
Fax: 301-916-1201
E-Mail:
stewart.andrew.sutton@gmail.com