Have you ever found yourself wondering if that attorney that you're speaking to is as good as he sounds? Want to find out if he is in good standing with the American Bar Association? Follow these steps to make sure that the lawyer that you hire is not a known deadbeat. This article will tell you how.
Get the attorney's correct name and state that they claim to be licensed to practice law in. It is also beneficial to find out which law school they attended, which may or may not coincide with the state that they are licensed in. Law School provides the pre-requisite training that is required to take the State Bar exam and become a licensed attorney.
You may notice that a lawyer has a specialty, an area of law that he specializes in. There are accident attorneys, injury lawyers, bankruptcy attorneys, real estate lawyers, family law attorneys, even bad faith insurance attorneys. You may choose to hire a lawyer only if his specialty meets your needs, however, most attorneys are reasonably familiar with most areas of the law and should be honest with you if they feel that they are not proficient in the area of law that you need assistance in. Having said that, a lawyer being up front with you about his strengths and weaknesses requires integrity, something that seems to lack in the legal industry.
On the internet, go to the web site that corresponds with the state bar of your choice. You can google "[state] state bar" or go to http://www.abanet.org/barserv/stlobar.html and find the link to your state's Bar. The state bar is a lawyer's regulatory agency and will handle complaints and disciplinary actions against a lawyer.
Once at the state bar web site, find the link that is for consumers, and perform a "lawyer search". Enter the attorney's first and last name, and you should get an instant report on this attorney, whether he is active, has any complaints against him/her, etc. Some state bar web sites allow you to email the state bar to obtain additional details on the attorney you are researching. This is always a wise thing to do, as the complaints on attorneys many not always be listed on the bar web site or there may be a complaint that is still pending that hasn't been updated online yet. You have the right to know this information prior to investing potentially thousands of dollars in a lawyer.
You might want to get a PACER account, which will enable you to search nearly all court documents to check on your attorney's reputation in court. You may find that the individual in the suit who is clamoring for your retainer fee is actually a big time loser.
- Don't take anyone's word- do your own research. Question everything. Think for yourself.