It is certainly not unimportant, but here is something to consider. Good lawyers get better with experience, but bad lawyers get worse. For the overwhelming majority of cases, as long as you have a good lawyer, you will be in much better shape than you otherwise would have been.
First and foremost, a good lawyer knows how to listen. If your lawyer doesn't listen, then information is lost and the representation suffers a great deal. Secondly, a good lawyer makes sure that they stay current. From recently released court opinions to new strategies and technology in the courtroom, the legal landscape is constantly changing. A good lawyer is constantly adapting to those changes. Third, a good lawyer has the ability to see the big picture. Good lawyers understand that winning a battle isn't worth losing a war. Finally, the best people generally make the best lawyers. Honesty, compassion, and character are all traits that benefit the client and the legal profession as a whole.
You shouldn't. If you really can't afford an attorney, then the court is required by law to provide you with one at the County's expense. Let them do this, it will likely help you out and it certainly won't hurt. If you can't qualify for a court-appointed attorney, then you can afford one and you should carefully select one to hire. Nobody has ever said "boy, I'm sure glad I handled that myself and didn't get someone who knows what they're doing to help me. That turned out well for me."
It can vary widely from case to case, but unless you don't live nearby, I insist you come and visit with me in person before I discuss financials. Meeting face to face allows us both to get a feel for each other and to make sure it's a mutually beneficial fit. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that our fees will always be reasonable because if I were in your shoes, I would want to be charged a reasonable fee.
Yes. For family law cases, the first 30 minutes are almost always free and any cost after that is waived if you retain my services. For criminal cases, the first consultation is always completely free, regardless of the time spent.