The Value of Your Lawyer

The value of a lawyer

The True Value of Your Lawyer! An Overview of Comparative Statistics

Just how well does hiring a private lawyer measure up to representing yourself or using a public defender? Let’s find out! The following statistics demonstrate the effectiveness of private lawyers, when compared with two contrasting options of representation.

(This data has been extracted from the BF&D LLC infographic, viewable at

1. Private Lawyers vs. Pro Se (self-representation)

  • 45% of pro se litigants are confident they can manage their case alone, without a lawyer.
  • 60% of pro se litigants fail to effectively represent themselves in legal matters.

The greatest disadvantage of pro se representation is unfamiliarity with the legal system, including:

  • procedural rule
  • plea bargains
  • appropriate legal forms/documents

The following are just two scenarios in which private lawyer representation poses an advantage over pro se:

Filing for Bankruptcy

The US Dept. of Justice has issued 5 common, bankruptcy misconceptions that result in repeated case failures:

  • 60% believe bankruptcy only affects a person for five years
  • 50% believe bankruptcy excuses individuals from paying off credit card debt
  • 38% believe creditors are willing to work with those who have filed
  • 21% believe bankruptcy is NOT public information.
  • 16% believe bankruptcy pardons individuals from paying off student loans.

A private lawyer would be able to clear up misnomers/queries and prevent clients from falling victim to the 70-80% failure rate of people who file for bankruptcy, pro se!

Personal Injury Claims

The skills of an experienced personal injury lawyer can assist in:

  • complex legal rules involved in a particular claim
  • injury compensation settlements
  • settlement matters with insurance company

People who hire a personal injury lawyer for their case receive an average settlement amount of 1/3 MORE than those who directly settle with an insurance company (even after considering the attorney’s fees)!

Furthermore, 84% of represented plaintiff winners received monetary damages with an estimated median award of $201,000!

2. Private Lawyers vs. Public Defenders

In recent years, numerous studies have focused on state-specific cases to measure private lawyer effectiveness, when compared to public defenders.

These studies employed the following indicators to ensure non-biased analyses:

  • acquittal rates
  • prison sentences
  • plea bargains
  • case dismissals

The following data has been collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

In Federal Courts

  • 88% of felony defendants represented by a public defender were sentenced to prison, versus 77% of felony defendants who were represented by a private lawyer!

In State Courts

  • 71% of felony defendants represented by a public defender were sentenced to prison, versus 54% of felony defendants who were represented by a private lawyer!

Defendants with private lawyers are also 2.7X more likely to be granted bail, than those represented by public defenders!

Additional research demonstrated in, “An Empirical Study of Public Defender Effectiveness” suggests the average sentence for clients of public defenders is an estimated THREE YEARS longer than the average clients of private attorneys!

The following statistics demonstrate case dismissals/terminations in US district courts (and includes both felony and misdemeanor charges).

Regulatory Offenses
(ie. public intoxication, speeding)
63% – Private Lawyer vs. 16.9% – Public Defender
Drug Offenses
(ie. possession, trafficking)
35.8% – Private Lawyer vs. 21.7% – Public Defender

Property Offenses
(ie. burglary, larceny, fraud)
42.8%  -Private Lawyer vs. 26.9% – Public Defender

Public Order Offenses
(ie. weapons, DWI, other public order)
34.2% – Private Lawyer vs. 31%  – Public Defender

Pretrial Release

Defendants with private lawyers also have a greater chance of obtaining ‘Pre-trial Release’ reprieves than defendants represented by a public defender:

79% of defendants with private lawyers received pretrial release on conditional bases, versus 52.2% of defendants with public defenders.

From case dismissals to compensation claims, a private lawyer proves to be an effective, advantageous recourse for most legal matters. If you or someone you know requires lawful assistance, visit for all your legal queries! 


Private Attorney Versus Public Defender


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Albuquerque, NM 87107
Phone: (505) 234-7007

Albuquerque Lawyers that can assist clients with bankruptcy, business law, criminal defense, divorce, estate planning, family law, personal injury, probate, real estate, taxes and more.
3500 Comanche NE, Bldg. B
Albuquerque, NM
Phone: (505) 234-7007