The People’s Counsel has gained a stellar reputation for St. Louis criminal defense over the years, and founder Charles “Chas” Barberio’s dedication to protecting the rights of his clients is a great example of how to grow a practice through sustained success.
Graduating from law school in 2008 at the peak of the Great Recession, Chas started his own firm out of necessity since like many industries, law firms simply weren’t hiring.
At the time, Chas picked the field of criminal defense because it was a more accessible area of law to get started practicing.
“I got out of law school in 2008 when the first recession hit, so no one was hiring on top of that people with high skill levels were being laid off, so I started my own practice,” Chas said.
The longer he stayed in this area of law, the more he realized how much he enjoyed this line of work.
However, this track record of successfully defending “criminals” does bring up a few questions in the morality/ethics arena. So, how does Chas sleep at night?
According to Chas, he doesn’t have a problem defending his clients because someone needs to ensure their rights are protected. He is also able to be selective about the cases he takes on, so if something about a potential client truly doesn’t feel right, he can pass on representing them. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for public defenders, they don’t get to pick and choose their clients. It can be a dirty job at times. But as a private attorney, if a guy wants to be an asshole or as unrealistic expectations, etc.; I’ll just tell them this isn’t going to work out. On the other hand, I have had many clients that were guilty of serious crimes but they were nonetheless human beings at their core, just like you and me. When you can connect with someone on that human level, it feels good to help them.”
When work does keep him up at night, it’s because he worries about his clients, not from guilt.
“At the end of the day, all I am doing is the best job that I can ethically and professionally for my client — sometimes that includes calling out the other side for being unethical and unprofessional,” Chas said.
Being ethical and professional are foundational values for the firm. No matter who the client is or what the crime is, if The People’s Counsel takes them on as a client, the attorneys will fight tooth and nail to build a robust defense.
In unique circumstances, the firm will also not make clients pay for their services.
“We have a unique business model where we are good lawyers that are willing to just hit home runs regardless of ability to pay,” Chas said.
But being a successful criminal defense attorney doesn’t just come down to their ability to build a defense. Chas was fortunate to work with St. Louis defense attorney Brad Kessler in his early days, who taught him the importance of an often-overlooked aspect of every case that goes to trial: The art of jury selection.
According to Chas, the process of selecting a jury can make or break a case, and the ability to select an impartial jury who will be receptive to hearing both sides has been critical to his success.
When he’s not in the courtroom or running his firm, Chas enjoys spending time with his kids, watching football, grabbing a bite to eat at El Burro Loco near his Central West End office or grabbing a beer at John P. Fields near his Clayton office.
In another life where he isn’t a successful criminal defense lawyer, Chas would be a professional golfer. And if he could be a celebrity for a day, it would be none other than the great Matthew McConaughey.
“He’s just a cool guy, being him for a day would be great,” Chas said.
But for now, Chas will stick to being a lawyer – and a good one at that.
If you are located in the St. Louis area and are in need of a reliable firm, contact People’s Counsel today. The firm specializes in drug crimes, violent crimes, federal crimes, etc.