Keith Whiddon of Whiddon Law Office didn’t choose to become a criminal defense lawyer. It chose him. “I spent one year as a civil defense attorney in a medium-sized law firm and rarely went to court,” he explains. “I wrote letters to insurance companies explaining the relevant law, advising what could be the maximum liability if the case went to trial. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I wanted to be in the courthouse where the action was happening. I wanted that human connection and that human element.”
Today, Keith fights for the human element from his office in Monroe, Louisiana, where he’s been a solo practitioner specializing in DWI defense and criminal defense for two years. Below, Keith talks about the advantages of his youth, the surprising importance of Facebook in the legal industry, and his ferocity in defending his clients:
What do you feel sets you apart from other lawyers in your field?
I’m young, and there are younger people arrested for possession of marijuana or pulled over because an officer believed he/she was drinking and driving. Because I’m younger, I can relate better than more seasoned attorneys in our area. Combining my youth with the experience I’ve packed into two short years sets me apart.
Generally, my clients charged with a drug offense fall into one of two camps: the officer is wrong about who was in possession of the alleged drugs or the client has battled drug use for a long time and needs help. I’ve had success moving my client’s’ case in either direction to meet his or her goals.
Finally, I try to make myself as available to my clients as I can. Obviously, my office uses email and phone and returning phone calls after hours and on weekends, but we also use Facebook and social media. I I even do some intake over Facebook.
That’s really interesting. Do you find that social media is becoming a little more of a tool that can be used in the legal industry?
Absolutely. I think it’s very important for marketing. I don’t advertise in the Yellow Pages. My Facebook and Instagram are updated very often to showcase what services I offer and what areas of law I concentrate on. If you look at my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ktwlegal), you can see that I focus on DWI defense and criminal defense in misdemeanor and felony court.
What would you say is the most fulfilling part of your job?
Whenever I have a client say, “Thank you for helping me get home.” Too often my client is in jail and is afraid he will be lost in the shuffle. Sometimes I’m able to take advantage of a pre-trial diversion program, with the agreement of the District Attorney’s office, and quickly move my client’s case to a resolution. Whenever my client can wrap up his business and look at me and say, “Thank you for helping me finish this,” that’s fulfilling.
Are there any misconceptions of criminal defense attorneys that you come across that you would like to clear up?
There is the allegation that criminal defense attorneys get people out of jail because of a technicality. I fight for people’s loved ones, the same things that you would want done if you or your loved one found himself incarcerated and charged with a crime.
I like to say that I defend the Constitution, as well as my client, because not everyone gets excited about the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to remain silent, and the right to confront an accuser. Everyone likes the right to free speech or the right to bear arms, but I fight for that same Constitution. I just have a different method of doing so.