Finding a lawyer

Sometimes, you need a specialist to answer your questions.  That’s about when you start wondering how can I find a lawyer?  In some ways, finding a lawyer isn’t hard.  But how do I find a lawyer that’s right for me?

1. Internet: A Google or Yahoo search with “Lawyer” or “Attorney” and the issue you need help with – family, divorce, criminal, injury, business — should return a boatload of results. Add the closest city to your search string and you should be able to narrow the results down to lawyers that are in your general area.

But other than the fact that they have a web site, what do you know about any of them?  You might follow up with the ones that catch your eye.  You should go ahead and request any free information and other items that are available through the web sites.  But mostly, you should pay attention.  Who calls you the next business day?  Does anyone personally email you, or do you start to receive a mailbox full of autoresponders?  If the response to your request is completely automated, how will you be treated as a client?

2. The Phone Book:  Not everyone keeps this bulky group of paper around any more, but if you do — look through the attorney ads and see which ones catch your eye.  Call them.  How do the receptionists respond?  If this is the attorney you choose to go with, this is the person you will have to go through every time you have a question.  Think about it.

3. A referral service.  There are many legal referral services out there, whose names I won’t mention for fear of some sort of backlash.  Here’s the information though.  The lawyers in the service pay to be a part of the service and receive leads on clients.  So you definitely aren’t being matched with the “best” attorney for your case.  You are being matched with the attorney willing to pay $75 for the chance to work on your case — and one hundred others like it.  The attorney may still give you the personal attention you deserve.  Just keep in mind: he or she paid a fee just for the privilege of talking to you.

Some services are even worse.  They pit multiple lawyers against each other for each potential lead — meaning you may receive multiple calls from lawyers on the same “lead.”  On top of that, all of them paid for the privilege of  calling you. Talk about pressure on them to make you into a client — which could easily and conceivably lead to you feeling quite a bit of pressure to become a client, whether you really like them or not.

4. The Bar Association.  If you are new in town, want to keep your search private, or just aren’t sure, your local bar association is a great resource.  Not only can this association let you know which attorneys in the area practice in the area in which you need legal help, but they can also tell you how to interact with free legal programs like an “Ask a Lawyer” Day or a pro bono program.  They may also be able to direct you to other free, public resources that can advise, supplement or otherwise assist you in resolving your problem.

5. A friend or family member: The best way to find a lawyer by far: ask a friend, family member or colleague if they know of any one who can help you.  You don’t need to go into the details of your situation.  A simple: I’m having some personal family problems or I was in an accident or I’m ready to do some planning…. or just I need to talk to an attorney about some personal things, do you know anyone? You will probably get a short synopsis of the other person’s problem, how the attorney helped, how the staff was invaluable, and how you can reach them.  All in about thirty seconds.

(c) KJD Legal