Why Experience Matters When Looking for an Attorney
Experience is key when hiring an attorney. If you’ve been in a car wreck, for example, you wouldn’t hire a divorce lawyer to represent you in bringing a claim against the other driver. You want an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of car accident law in your state.
But how do you find the right attorney to handle your case, no matter what kind it is?
Finding an Attorney
To find the name of an attorney or firm to possibly hire, you can ask friends, family, co-workers, and others for any recommendations they may have. Perhaps someone you know used an attorney for a similar matter. You can also visit the bar association for your state, city, or local area, which may provide links to attorney referral services. As an example, the State Bar of Texas website offers a search page for the public that allows users to search by legal specialty, location, and more. You can also find nationwide databases of attorneys at legal websites such as avvo.com, martindale.com, lawyers.com, legalzoom.com, and similar sites. Or simply use your favorite search engine to search on the specialty area you need and your city.
Researching Background & Experience
Once you’ve identified an attorney or law firm you’re considering hiring, how do you find out more about the depth of their background and experience?
- Bar association websites. Check licensing information, how long someone has been practicing, whether the person has disciplinary actions against them, and other information at bar association websites.
- Legal search engines. At the previously mentioned legal search engines and other legal sites, you can type in the attorney or firm name and find background information, including specialty areas, experience, education, and even client reviews.
- Check the attorney’s website. Visit the attorney’s or firm’s website for in-depth information about their specialty areas and cases they’ve handled. Look for case details about cases similar to yours that resulted in positive outcomes for the clients. You can also review the attorney’s blog and frequently-asked-questions sections to find out more about their knowledge related to your type of legal concern. Websites may also include accolade sections from previous clients who were satisfied with the attorney’s work. Check out their education and whether they have any additional certifications related to their specialization that make them especially qualified in their legal area.
- Look at social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can offer more information about attorneys and their backgrounds, and you may also get a sense of their personal approach and style.
- Go to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB website can tell you whether the attorney you are considering is accredited with them and what their rating is (the BBB gives ratings from A+ to F), how many years the attorney has been accredited with the BBB, how long they’ve been practicing and whether there are any complaints filed against their business.
- Check out review websites. Yelp and other review sites provide information from real people about their experiences with particular businesses, including attorneys and law firms.
Once you have done some research and found an attorney who may have the experience you need to handle your legal issue, meet with them in person. Many attorneys provide free consultations to potential clients. During the consultation, don’t be shy in asking them about their experience and background in handling cases like yours and about their record of success. An attorney cannot ethically guarantee that your case will have a successful outcome, but they can give you examples of similar cases they have handled that had positive outcomes. An in-person consultation before committing to hiring an attorney is also important to determine whether you would be comfortable having the person represent you. Even if they have all the right legal skills and experience, if they make you uncomfortable or you feel you can’t speak with them honestly, move on.