Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me?

When you have a quarter of a century defending people in criminal cases, you have a reservoir of experience that never leaves you at the mercy of someone’s crackpot theory of the day. So, it is with great amusement mixed with head shaking sadness that I share with you something I learned recently about Internet searches for criminal defense lawyers.

When someone is looking for a place to get something to eat or drink that is on their pre-existing route of travel, it makes sense to do a search that ends with the phrase “near me“. Unfortunately, this now affects how people search for Florida criminal defense attorneys: Many people are searching for a defense lawyer just like they are searching for a restaurant.

Worse, consumers are relying on social media ratings that have no bearing whatsoever on a particular lawyer or law firm’s skill, experience or abilities. It’s one thing to search for “Brazilian restaurant near me“ and then to look at the social media reviews in order to determine if customers have had an enjoyable dining experience. It’s quite another to search for a Florida criminal defense lawyer in the same manner.

One Florida marketing company that specializes in marketing for lawyers put it rather bluntly in one of their advertisements: “Cases don’t go to the best lawyers. Cases go to the best marketers.“


When you put the “near me“ search with social media reviews, it is highly unlikely that most people will find the best lawyer or legal team to suit their criminal defense needs. Instead, they will find themselves hiring the best marketed firm, not the best criminal defense for firm.

Let’s discuss how this affects your search for a Florida criminal defense lawyer in reverse order.

First, social media reviews are worthless when determining which lawyer to hire for multiple reasons. The people writing the review may be a bot or person engaging in “black hat“ negative search engine optimization and intentionally trying to damage that particular lawyer or law firm‘s reputation in order to help a competitor. Or just to create strife.

Even if the review writer is an actual client of the law firm, there is no way to know the real story. It is impossible to determine the facts because the Florida bar has issued an ethics opinion which severely handicaps a criminal defense lawyer’s ability to respond. The only thing a defense lawyer can say when they have received an unfairly negative review, is that they disagree.

Thus, a former client can trash their lawyer and the defense attorney cannot even respond unless the review constitutes libel, and then they can sue. Which will only guarantee that every member of the former client’s family and their friends will follow up with.… You guessed it, more negative reviews.

Frankly, if I am looking for a surgeon to do open-heart surgery, I am deeply interested in the opinions of specialists within the field of cardiology and don’t give a rat’s ass about some anonymous person’s “experience”. Florida has had a specialization protocol and program for lawyers in multiple fields for several decades. When I need to call upon the expertise of another lawyer, I asked specialist with in that field instead of random strangers online.

Next, it really doesn’t matter if your Florida criminal defense attorney is “near“ your location. What really matters is whether they know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it with the highest degree of effectiveness. Some random stranger or even your best friend’s opinion really doesn’t matter compared to the opinion of people who are in the know. Criminal law specialist are in the best position to determine who the best of the best Florida criminal defense lawyers are.

No one wants to find themselves under investigation and no one ever wants to be arrested. But if you were someone you love needs to find a local Florida criminal defense attorney, the number of miles between your house and their office isn’t important. The number of miles under their belt in the quart room, so to speak, is what really matters.

Fort Walton Beach Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Okaloosa Island Florida Criminal defense attorney? Why the “criminal defense attorney near me“ search phrase for lawyers is a bad idea.

If you are looking for an Okaloosa Island, Florida, criminal defense attorney on the island itself, good luck: a little thing called Hurricane Ivan is why I closed my criminal defense office on Okaloosa Island earlier this century.

We still provide high-quality legal defense services from our other locations in Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Crestview, Florida.

Sadly, many prospective clients look for convenience first and quality of legal services to be rendered, second. The “criminal defense lawyer near me“ search is a classic example of someone utilizing their smart phone to select the lawyer based upon the same criteria they would use to buy a hamburger.

Where is, many rely upon so-called “word-of-mouth“ which has no logical relationship between a particular lawyer or legal teams’ skills or abilities. Think of it like this: who would be more likely to give you a better device when it comes to picking a cardiologist to perform heart surgery? Would you listen to an anonymous stranger who doesn’t know what they are talking about or a skilled medical professional such as your doctor, instead?

Obviously, your doctor is more likely to be able to give you a meaningful reference for a local, highly skilled cardiologist.

Nevertheless, I would sometimes get business by virtue of the fact I had an office on Okaloosa Island. This was great if someone was looking for a highly skilled criminal defense legal services, but I would occasionally have people drop in requesting services for everything from family law to estate planning.

In real estate, the three words that matter most are “location, location, and location“. With finding the best criminal defense lawyer to help you with your Okaloosa County case – whether or not the incident happened on Okaloosa Island itself Dash location does not matter. Rather, the skill, ability, experience and dedication of the entire legal team handling your criminal defense is most important.

Ocean City Criminal defense attorney?

Recently, a friend of mine asked why there are so many lawyers in the little tiny town of Ocean City, Florida. The answer is very simple: the new Fort Walton Beach courthouse annex is located on Lewis Turner Blvd., – right in the middle of the Ocean City/Wright area.

Ocean City, Florida, is one of those small, suburban, municipalities you can easily missed while driving by. There is no police department, no county jail, and the only detention center happens to be at the courthouse.

Nevertheless, if someone were to do a “criminal defense attorney near me” search while standing in the courthouse parking lot, it would look like the Ocean City/Wright area is one of the most developed part of the state.

Criminal defense law firms have changed radically since I began practicing over 25 years ago. Back in the day, all appointments were done in the office (cell phones did not exist), communication by a fax machine was considered state-of-the-art, and all research was done with the old fashioned books. Fast forward to 2019, and you can see that technology has a radically change the practice of law. Electronic discovery did not exist in any meaningful form when I began, now it is a routine part of the discovery process.

In the early 2000’s, I had one of the very first sexual battery cases that involve social media discovery. Fortunately, a false accuser was detected by her very own private messages from Facebook messenger. Even though it has been over a decade since that case was litigated, many people still do not realize that their private messages in Facebook are really not private. Just last week in northern Okaloosa county, digital discovery in the form of text messages turned out to be a key component of evidence in a first-degree murder trial.

So what do you cell phones, offices in the Ocean City or Wright area, digital discovery and technology have in common? Believe it or not, rapid technological change. Let me explain: Most but not all the law firms located in the Ocean City, Florida, area are satellite offices. Those that are main offices have satellite offices located elsewhere. In fact, satellite offices have been one of the fastest growing trends impacting criminal defense law.

Now let me conclude with this shocker: Most criminal defense lawyers do not need an office in the traditional sense. Their office is a combination of their presence in the court room, their presence online, and their presence with telecommunication devices that are appropriately secured. The traditional law firm office is a tremendous expense that is paid for by you, the client. No wonder so many practicing lawyers are ditching the out of the law firm office tomorrow in favor of one more suited for the rapidly changing time we live in.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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