2 articles in The Atlantic magazine give one pause. The lessons are for those charged with violations of the criminal law, but apply equally well to what I do.
tells the story of a guy who had a public defender who he had never met and spoken to in any sort of meaningful way. “In State v. Terrence Miller,four justices of the state supreme court—over a lone dissent—affirmed the conviction of a man indicted on drug charges who met his lawyer for the first time for a few minutes in a stairwell at the courthouse on the morning of trial. The lawyer had not tried a criminal case in seven years and had been appointed to Miller’s case only four days before trial. He never spoke to any witnesses, or to Miller’s former attorney, or to investigators in the public defender’s office. He didn’t know what his client would say on the witness stand.” Now there is absolutely NO WAY Miller could have been defended. And there were witnesses in Miller’s favor too. But the lawyer didn’t call them because he didn’t know. This, apparently, is OK in New Jersey and with the U.S. Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the same magazine had this article http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/10/want-a-fair-trial-pay-for-your-own-lawyer/280857/
This article describes how, despite having the best lawyer money can buy, Michael Skakel (a relative of the Kennedys) got a new trial because of inadequate representation. What were the errors? A lack of energetic investigation and coherent plan o defense that was well executed. Huh?
Anyway, be aware: If you want a fair chance, hire a lawyer, meet and work with him, and fight hard.