Accused of a Sex Crime? Advantages of Hiring a Former Prosecutor Turned Defense Attorney

Lee Berlin
The only practice in Oklahoma limited to servicing clients charged with sex crimes and crimes against children

I have to say that being a prosecutor is one of the greatest advantages that I have now as a defense attorney. I routinely see defense attorneys advertise that they have never been a prosecutor. Why would you advertise that? Why would you say, “I have absolutely no idea how those people do business. I have no clue about their thought process. Well, I guess I could read about it in a book.” But if you have never experienced it and you have never done it, why would you advertise that you only have half of the knowledge you need?

Some of the best work that I have done has been born out of my knowledge from the way prosecutors think, the way that they charge cases, and most importantly, the way that they prosecute cases. You can determine what their themes and theories are going to be, what witnesses they will put on, what evidence they are going to introduce, and how they are going to lay their foundations. You can’t learn that from watching it in a courtroom or being on the other side as the defense attorney. You must stand in the shoes of a felony prosecutor, trying felony cases to know how felony prosecutors act. Otherwise, it’s like reading a book and knowing how to do brain surgery from it. It’s just not possible.

Clients have asked me, “Lee, how much experience do you have? This other attorney has been practicing for 40 years, and you have only been practicing for 17 years? Why shouldn’t I go with the guy that has been doing it for 40 years?” I tell them, “Absolutely. That individual has more time practicing law than I do, so they have more experience in the practice of law.” But I would submit to you that I probably handled more sex crime and kid cases then 99% of the defense bar would handle in their entire career. This is what I do all day, every day. Add that up for the number of years that I’ve been doing it, the number of these cases that I have handled and their experience as far as years in the trenches as it’s compared to the number of cases they have handled. It just doesn’t measure.

But is experience important? Absolutely. And they have a wealth of experience. It doesn’t mean they aren’t competent lawyers. Of course they are competent, or else they wouldn’t have been doing it for 40 years. They are competent. But do you want somebody that is competent to practice law, or someone who is exclusively focused to one laser focused area and that area is the exact area you need help with? Or do you want someone who does a little bit of everything? Would you want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none? Or do you want to hire the master of one? I tell people to hire the master of one. And that’s why it is my tagline. Master of one. One subject matter. One exclusive focus.