A common request we get when people call us looking for an attorney referral is to find a “cost effective” lawyer. We get that. We don’t like to spend more than we have to on anything.

That said, lawyers in Illinois, at least the ones that we know, do not work on a sliding scale or charge based on your income. It’s not much different than going to a restaurant. The price is what it is and you can either afford it or not. It sounds harsh, but it’s true and we always tell the truth.

So unless you were injured where an attorney will work on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if they win, you have to pay an attorney what their rate is.

This isn’t a big deal for most people if it’s a minor issue like a traffic ticket. It becomes a problem for some people when it comes to getting a divorce where you usually need at least $2,000.00 up front in order to hire a good law firm.

But it’s a huge problem if you or a loved one is charged with a major crime like murder.

There simply is no such thing as a low cost murder defense lawyer in Illinois. If you get convicted you are obviously going to be in jail for a very long time if not for the rest of your life. So you need an attorney who has a track record of having defended these cases before.

Beyond that, there is a ton of work that needs to be done to defend one of these cases. We are talking hundreds of hours of work. So the attorneys we know of charge between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00 to take on a client. That’s a ton of money.

Most people can’t afford this amount and I don’t blame them one bit. What you can’t do is find a cut rate lawyer who won’t actually do the work. It would be a HUGE waste of money. So what do you do?

The only realistic option is to get the Public Defender who is appointed by the Judge to defend you. While lawyers in that office are over worked and underpaid, usually the ones on murder cases have great experience. And they are free. So while your chances aren’t as good as if you hired a private firm, it’s way better than hiring someone who has no experience or is so cheap that they won’t put in the hours needed to get the best result.

This advice is really true for all types of criminal cases. If you hire a cheapo attorney, you’ll probably just get talked in to pleading guilty. You can do that for free.