If you are looking for a lawyer in the United States, you are in luck; there is certainly no shortage, and your main issue will not be finding one, but finding the right one. The task can seem a bit daunting, but, with a bit of forethought, you can learn what to look for, and make your decision with greater confidence. Here are just a few helpful tips.
Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services can be a great way to put you in touch with lawyers in your area who handle your particular type of case. But, use them with caution. The requirements for getting listed with a particular service can vary widely—some may have stringent standards regarding experience and other qualifications, while others will let anyone who is in good standing with their bar association, and maintains the required amount of liability insurance. While these two points are important, they are very basic, and do not say much about the experience and competence of the attorney. So, inquire with the service about what they require of lawyers who want to get listed.
Consulting with People and Groups Related to the Practice Area in Question
If you are looking for a lawyer for your business needs, your local or state chamber of commerce may be able to make some solid recommendations. Non-profit groups may be able to provide some quality recommendations related to lawsuits in their area of expertise—an environmental group, for example, could probably be very helpful in recommending a lawyer to help you fight the construction of a new housing development, or other projects that may harm the environment. If you are in need of a good family law practitioner for a divorce, or child custody dispute, reaching out to local support groups may help.
Check Out Legal Associations in the Relevant Practice Area
Membership in legal associations demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the particular practice area, and suggests the lawyer is particularly passionate about this field, and has a high level of commitment to his work. If you were looking for an immigration lawyer, for example, it would be a good idea to source potential candidates from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA.) While it is not required a lawyer join an association relevant to his field, those who do so may be more desirable candidates in general.
Make Sure He Has Extensive Experience with Your Type of Case or Required Service
You will find plenty of general practitioners that do everything from draw up wills to help you file for bankruptcy. Certain legal procedures and services are fairly straightforward, and do not require a great deal of expertise or experience in a particular area. But, for many people, they would be much better off consulting with a lawyer who specializes in the particular area of law relevant to their concern.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a lawyer with extensive business experience will be most useful to you; if you have suffered an injury, and believe you have a legitimate legal claim to financial compensation, you should work with an attorney who specializes in personal injury law. If you are trying to navigate the maze that is trying to apply for Medicare funds for long-term care, or anything else having to do with caring for aged loved ones, you should really be working with a lawyer well-versed in elder law.
Remember that with all these tips, there is one important element that in many ways may be the most important, and that is how you feel about this person. You don’t have to love them—you are not looking for a friend. But, you should feel comfortable with the attorney, and feel like he is listening to your concerns, and willing to answer your questions. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Ask relevant questions to help assuage any concerns, and re-evaluate. Don’t discount gut instincts.