Money doesn't just go to one person. I realize that more money isn't always better, but my lawyer and his team are really going further than I expected. Almost anyone with a brain knows the reputation lawyers have for exploiting people who are in a difficult and frightened situation. Perhaps my favorite moment as a lawyer was when I entered a jail after my client was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
It appears quite often here that people are told that they need a lawyer and they say that I can't afford one that it might be useful to have a reference of what a lawyer actually costs. I've heard of 20k for a good lawyer just to help you plead guilty (there's a saying that good lawyers don't go to court). I've read a lot of material and watched a lot of programs where people just don't wait for their lawyer and just talk to the police. The biggest piece of advice I could offer someone in high school who thinks they want to become a lawyer is to take classes and work hard to become a great writer.
That said, the role of a criminal defense attorney, in essence, is to be an enthusiastic advocate for the defendant. If I had a penny for every handful of money I gave to criminal defense lawyers where I covered cases for them, I could retire. People can't afford lawyers, whereas lawyers have loans for service and office costs (including databases, printers, etc.) and they have to collect to cover them. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the best white-collar criminal defense attorneys billed incredible rates, but I don't think Ira falls into that category.