Finding a lawyer you trust doesn't have to be difficult. There are many ways to find reliable legal help if you know where to look. This article will take you through:
Things to Consider While Searching for a Lawyer
There are a couple of things to keep in mind at the outset of your search:
- Where is the attorney's office? Chances are you can find a qualified local attorney. While a lot of interaction can be done through phone calls and emails, it's likely you'll have to go to the lawyer's office at some point, so getting a lawyer nearby can be valuable.
- Does the lawyer have experience in your type of case? You may have already hired the best family lawyer in town for a previous divorce, but that doesn't mean they do estate planning or criminal defense. Make sure the lawyer you are contacting provides the legal services you need and has some experience in that area of law.
- Do you get along with your lawyer? After speaking with them, does it seem like the lawyer understands your goals? Do you feel comfortable relying on them for legal advice?
With these basic guidelines in mind, you can begin your search to find the right lawyer.
How to Find a Lawyer: Your Options
Friends and relatives can be a great way to find a knowledgeable attorney in your area. Not only can they recount first-hand experiences with the attorney, but they can also give you insight into the attorney's business practices, mannerisms, and handling of fees.
Keep in mind, however, that your legal issue may be different than your family member's case, which may affect whether your friend or family member's attorney is right for you. If not, it's possible your friend or family member's attorney can point you to another lawyer in their network.
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory is one of several online legal directories that offer attorney listings across the U.S. As the premiere attorney search locator, FindLaw allows you to conveniently search for a lawyer by legal issue (e.g., personal injury, probate, elder law), location (i.e. state, county, city, and metro) and name.
Moreover, FindLaw's directory is multidimensional to help you pinpoint relevant local attorneys, and also includes features to help you find the right attorney, like descriptions of the law firm practice area and easy links to attorney websites where you can find more information about their background and experience.
State Bar Associations
State bar associations can be a good way to locate a lawyer in your state. Most bar association websites contain listings of attorneys licensed to practice in the state. In most cases, you can search for lawyers by name, location, and legal practice area. Some also allow you to conduct more advanced searches, such as finding a lawyer who speaks a specific language. County bar associations are another resource if you want a more localized search.
Keep in mind that being listed on a state bar association is not a recommendation or endorsement of that attorney. It is still important to do some research and make sure you come prepared to the first meeting to determine if the lawyer is really right for your situation.
Volunteer Legal Organizations
In addition to state bar associations, most states have volunteer legal organizations that can lead you to a lawyer. These organizations, which often include minority bar associations, legal aid societies, and others, might focus on representing a certain type of client, such as low-income, or particular legal focus, such as immigration, public service, or family law. You can often access the names of volunteer legal organizations through a state's bar association website.
Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services can help direct you to lawyers in your area based on certain criteria, mainly practice area or special services, such as immigration, domestic violence, or legal aid. Since lawyer referral services are similar to phone book listings, however, you may not receive information regarding the lawyer's experience or qualification levels.
Advertisements about a lawyer's services that you see on television, billboards, and radio may provide some useful leads to attorneys in your area, but it is recommended to do some additional fact-finding to determine a lawyer's reputation and experience level in the area of law you are looking for.
While it certainly doesn't hurt to contact a lawyer that you find through an advertisement, you should always be prepared to ask some important questions during the first "interview" with the lawyer.
Getting legal assistance online is pretty easy. Keep in mind, however, that not all websites and attorney directories are equal. Make sure that the attorney you find is local and qualified. You can check the state bar association to make sure the attorney you are working with is in good standing.
You can also find other basic information about the attorney you are looking to hire, such as what law school they went to, their contact information so you can call or email to get information about the first consultation, and what local bar associations they belong to.
Regardless of the way you find your lawyer, the first meeting will be an important part of deciding who you go with. At the initial consultation, you can discuss legal fees, such as whether your attorney will be charging a contingency fee, hourly rate, or flat fee. Many law firms will also note in their listings if they offer free consultations to discuss your potential case.
Once, you're ready to start contacting your list or lawyers, you may wish to read the following:
Lastly, after you've found a lawyer to work with, you should research the attorney's discipline record and investigate whether the attorney is currently eligible to practice law.