When people ask why my award-winning defense firm costs more than competitors, I give them a simple answer. “If you want to learn why some lawyers charge more, hire one that doesn’t and find out.” If that sounds harsh, load up on tissues now because we are going to be having a chat. Let me explain the finer points of why self-defense cases are so expensive.

The Pareto Distribution

Have you heard of the Pareto distribution? Even if you haven’t, odds are you have experienced it on more than one occasion. The gist is that the greatest portion of competence tends to accumulate in a small group. Simply put, a few people — 10 to 20 percent — are the ones you can count on to get something done and done right.

This means the vast majority of your car mechanics are mediocre — or worse. The same is true for plumbers, roofers and, yes, lawyers. This also means that, in most professions, only a small group of the many available candidates are worth hiring. Those folks know they are better, therefore more in demand — and can respond with higher rates.

Very few attorneys have the skills and experience to handle a self-defense case effectively. Those few are probably working more hours a week than they care to admit. And seeing their families far less than they’d like. So when you call with your life-changing self-defense case involving potentially hundreds of billable hours — and Lord knows how many unbillable hours — those months of 12- to 16-plus-hour days and weekends will come with a price tag. It is also likely that to manage the load and ensure nothing gets missed, multiple attorneys will work on your case. That sound you just heard is the cratering of your bank account.

Keep That Wallet Open

So we’ve established some of the economics of the attorney. But we are just getting started.

What about experts? Many self-defense cases feature one or more experts hired on your behalf to establish shot angles and distances. Some can explain the effects of a traumatic experience on your intuitive muscles and reactive memories. Other specialists will inform the court that shooting the attacker multiple times was reasonable under the circumstances. These experts possess years, even decades, of experience and professional success in their fields to be allowed in court.

People with that amount of expertise cost a pile of money. They will need to review the case, write reports and communicate with your attorneys. Those attorneys will need to review the reports, follow up with the experts and on and on and on. The law firm will fly the specialists to your trial, put them up in a hotel, pay for their meals, etc. These costs add up over the several days that it may take the experts to testify. A five-figure-per-expert bill is not uncommon, circumstances depending. And I only mentioned three types of experts. There are many more that could make the difference between your freedom and a lifetime behind bars.

We’re Not Done Yet

On top of the hefty price tags for attorneys and experts, there are transcripts, exhibits, witness fees, subpoena fees, bail to get you out of jail, perhaps various other consultants, etc. These could all prove critical to your success in court. I did not invent this system, but I am here to make sure that people get a fair shake under the law. Sometimes those defenses are relatively cheap and cost-effective; most times they are not.

Your attorney is merely providing solutions to your various legal challenges. You can live in denial of all of this, or you can prepare yourself to meet the challenges if, God forbid, you find yourself in need of a skilled defense attorney. The best advice I can give is to learn and follow the law. A couple-hundred-dollar training fee sounds better than $100,000 of legal problems and a lifetime behind bars.

About Tom Grieve

Tom Grieve is a highly awarded former state prosecutor who started Grieve Law, LLC, which is now one of the largest criminal-defense firms in Wisconsin. He is respected as one of the top criminal-defense lawyers in the state and has developed a nuanced understanding of Wisconsin firearms laws throughout his years of experience. To better serve his home state, Tom has also stated a family law firm, Divergent Family Law. Although Tom’s legal background speaks for itself, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty, receiving his certification as a firearms instructor, participating as a regular speaker and panelist with the USCCA for live broadcasts, training videos and national expos, and even serving as a speaker and analyst on numerous radio stations, television stations, and both college and law school campuses.


The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. Members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer for a specific case.