Talking up the merits of another Syracuse law firm is not something I typically write about, but since I have recently affiliated with Carden Dotzler,PLLC in an "of counsel" capacity I wanted to let my readers know why and why I'm so happy and proud about it.
Last month I moved my primary practice location to San Antonio, Texas. My wife and I are native Texans and returning home to practice law has been a long deferred dream of ours. But having practiced in the Syracuse area for so many years and also having developed such a fondness for the people as well as friends and colleagues in the legal community I didn't want to completely sever my ties with a city and people that I have become so fond of. And so what I decided I needed was a local firm that could answer my calls and more importantly help my new and existing New York clients with their cases in the caring and professional manner that I have worked so hard to provide in my own practice. I interviewed lawyers at several Syracuse law firms and met with many wonderful lawyers but none felt right in terms of my feeling that they would work with clients the manner that I have. I have always believed that a legal matter, especially one involving criminal charges, should be a team effort - not only with other lawyers, but also with the clients. The potential consequences of a criminal charge can be life changing and unfortunately many lawyers leave clients in the dark while their cases are pending – in fact this is one of the primary complaints people have about lawyers.
So after a lengthy search I remembered that my friend Clifton Carden had recently started a new practice in Syracuse with Matthew Dotzler. Prior to opening their own firm Clifton and Matthew had been Assistant District Attorneys with the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office. I knew them as Cliff and Matt.
Unlike many other Assistant DA's Matt's door was always open and he was easy to work with and most importantly he was fair. While no pushover I found Matt always reasonable when I negotiated with him on behalf of my clients. Matt is a very smart, dedicated and serious lawyer, one that has a unique ability to focus like a laser on the heart of a case and work it through to a solution – being a lawyer just seems to come naturally to him.
When Cliff was with the DA's office I had never had many occasions to work with him on a one to one basis, but we did have several meetings in court. I found that his reputation as a tough and smart lawyer was well deserved. Although I never had any trials against Cliff, we did go against one another in several court hearings. At our first court appearance as opponents I was immediately impressed with him. Cliff, a former Marine, has what lawyers refer to as "courtroom presence" his posture, demeanor and confidence command attention. I found him to be a smart, articulate and tenacious opponent. His arguments in court were always well-prepared, persuasive and delivered with confidence and poise.
I gave Cliff a call and asked him if he would be interested in helping me with existing and new clients in Upstate New York. He was immediately receptive and enthusiastic about the idea and I was pleased and relieved that someone of his caliber would be helping my Syracuse clients. After visiting Carden Dotzler, PLLC in downtown Syracuse I was amazed at the state-of-the-art firm they had created. Their office is almost entirely paperless and each staff member has the ability at their desks to electronically scan documents and associate them in the firm's computers with the client's matters. The firm's computers have several backup servers both on and off site to ensure security and just as importantly availability. So instead of lawyers and other staff members having to flip through paper files everyone in the firm has immediate access to client's flies – which are always up to date. This paperless system is a huge advantage to lawyers preparing their client's cases for negotiation or trial – it also enables lawyers to answer client's questions when they call without staff having to locate their files and call them back; a waste of time for both.
In addition to a first rate, efficient office, a huge advantage to client's facing criminal charges is the fact that both Clifton Carden and Mathew Dotzler are former DA prosecutors. Assistant District Attorneys receive in-depth, focused and rigorous training in all aspects of trial strategy and tactics. They usually have far more experience in actually trying cases than do most defense lawyers. I liken the difference to someone who learned to fly commercial airlines at a private flight school versus someone who learned to fly in the military. Former DA's, like Cliff and Matt also know how District Attorney's offices approach cases, they know, through experience, what negotiation strategies have the best chance of achieving results for their clients.
Finally the vast majority of Carden Dotzler's clients are retained – that means that their legal fees are their own hard-earned dollars as opposed to being paid by the county or some other public entity. The lawyers at Carden Dotzler recognize and appreciate this and they treat their clients and their cases accordingly – with respect and a willingness and ability to fight hard for their clients to obtain the very best result possible results whether through negotiation or trial. So if you find yourself, a family member or a friend in need of an attorney, come check out the Carden Dotzler advantage – you won't be disappointed.