In the event someone is faced with a legal obstacle, the first question is "how can I find a good lawyer." All lawyers are trained in the law and have a degree from a reputable law school. And all practicing lawyers have passed a board exam to become a licensed attorney in his state. That said, it is no secret that not all lawyers are equally qualified and it goes to reason that if one is facing a major legal battle she wants the best lawyer available on her case. Finding the best lawyer can be done several ways.
Consider lawyers that advertise. Many lawyers that advertise on television or in the yellow pages list their specialty. However, just because a lawyer advertises does not mean that she is a good lawyer. It should mean that she practices in a certain area of the law and has experience in that specialty. You might want to avoid a lawyer who practices a little of everything and, in essence, is a "jack of all trades and a master of none." Feel free to ask any lawyer about how many cases she has litigated that are similar to your case and how many of those cases that she won.
Ask friends, relatives or other lawyers. Almost everyone has had a need for a lawyer at some point in his life, and most people can recommend or not recommend a lawyer for a specific task. The best reference is from an actual lawyer. Active lawyers know better than anyone else the best lawyers in their field of expertise. A defense lawyer will know the best plaintiff lawyers in his jurisdiction. A criminal prosecutor will know the best criminal defense lawyers, and so forth.
Go to the court house and watch the attorneys in action. Go to court on a motion day when a number of attorneys will address the judge over a small period of time. Be sure to go to a criminal court if you have a criminal issue, and a civil court for a non-criminal issue. Listening to the various attorneys as they argue for their client will give you a wealth of information about each attorney's courtroom experience and knowledge of the law.
Check databases of lawyers such as Findlaw. There are a number of Internet sites that keep an extensive database of attorneys in every state. The attorney's name, address and specialty is listed. However, little is said about the attorney's qualifications on most databases. One publication, Martindale-Hubble is a valuable resource, as the listed attorneys are rated by their fellow lawyers in their degrees of expertise and proficiency.
Interview as many attorneys as possible after you have narrowed down your list to those you are most interested in. Just because an attorney has a great reputation does not mean that he is the right fit for you. In the interview, ask the attorney who will be handling the case, whether it will be him or a junior associate. Ask yourself how you feel about the overall feel of the office. For example, is there a professional atmosphere and does the staff seem courteous and competent? Not only are you hiring the lawyer, you are also hiring his staff.
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