If a transaction or a dispute gets complicated, you may need the assistance of a lawyer. You may also want to consult a lawyer for advice rather than representation so that you can understand your rights and obligations. This may allow you to handle the issue on your own rather than having the lawyer fight the battles for you. There are several ways in which to find a selection of lawyers who could potentially help you. You can then proceed to meet with each of them and find out which choice makes sense for your specific needs.
A good way to start your search is to talk to friends or family members who have needed a lawyer. You can also possibly speak with people in your area who have encountered the same issue, such as other tenants in your complex. You should be aware that not every lawyer will be the right fit for any given person. Even if the lawyer fit your friend’s needs, your case is unique and may require a different type of advice or advocacy. You should make sure to meet the lawyer and go over the details of your needs with them before deciding whether to retain them.
Referrals in the Industry
In some areas of law, such as real estate or business law, you may already have relationships with professionals who have advised you before. A real estate agent or a banker, for example, may be able to point you toward an attorney whom they trust and who has handled matters successfully for other people in your situation. Since these areas of law tend to be more sophisticated, it may be harder for you to make a determination about a lawyer’s knowledge and competence without this type of external recommendation.
Lawyer Referral Services and Bar Associations
State bar associations grant approval to lawyer referral services, which can help you find an attorney who is in good standing with the bar. You should be aware that different services have different screening criteria, so some of them may be more useful than others. For example, a service that distinguishes among attorneys according to their experience and qualifications may help you narrow your options better than a service that lists any attorney in good standing. Try to find out the criteria that a certain service uses before deciding how much weight to place on a referral. Also, you should be aware that you are not likely to gain a sense of a lawyer’s personality or perspective until you actually meet them.
Some community organizations offer referral services that are dedicated to people with certain characteristics, such as people with disabilities, victims of crimes, or immigrants. These can be helpful ways to narrow your search, although again the criteria for including a lawyer in the service should be investigated before you decide how much to trust a service.
The lawyer directory at Justia provides information about attorneys in your area. This allows you to find out about the experience, practice areas, fee arrangements, and education of a potential attorney, as well as the awards and recognition that they have received and their membership in professional associations. Each lawyer in the directory is licensed to practice in jurisdictions noted on their profile. There are also other lawyer directories online.
To get a general sense of lawyers who practice in the appropriate region and field of law, you can do a search in Google or another search engine. This will provide you with a list of law firms and a map showing where some of them are located. Google and consumer sites like Yelp also provide an opportunity for former clients to review the services of an attorney. In determining how much weight to put on a positive or negative review, you should look at how much care seems to have gone into it and how much detail it provides about the case. Also, not everyone has the same priorities in evaluating whether a lawyer did a “good job.” You should read reviews with an eye to whether the same points that were important to a reviewer would be important to you.