You never know when you might need a good attorney – and I realize that the word “good” is quite relative. Ponzi realizes we’re going to need to find a tax attorney soon enough, and that prompted me to ask my network if they had any suggestions as to how we might go about finding one.
The first time I found an attorney for Lockergnome, I just picked up the phone book and dialed the first name that caught my eye. That was ten years ago, when the Internet hadn’t quite matured to the level where it is today.
Each year the United States Lawyer Rankings puts out a list of the Nation’s Top 10 Lawyers in each of several different practice areas.
Although most of the lawyers on the U.S. Lawyer Rankings Top 10 lists are from large firms (and therefore very expensive) there are a few who are with small firms (usually lawyers at large firms who left to start their own firms) and if you can find one practicing the type of law you need then you get the best of both worlds, a top lawyer at small firm rates.
Madan (Raja) Ahluwalia:
You should ask your friends for references and then meet with the attorney to interview. If there is a match of chemistry and you are satisfied with the knowledge, then hire the attorney.
I had back problems and discovered that your question can easily be modified to include chiropractors. How do you find a good one?
With an MD, if you don’t like the person, you move on and find another. With a chiropractor or lawyer, by the time you realize there is a problem the damage may well have been done.
I found my chiropractor by asking friends, found that several of them, not connected, recommended the same guy.
As to lawyers, same thing. Ask around. Once you have one for something, you now have another tool for future reference – you can ask your lawyer to refer you to other lawyers. (I needed a civil attorney for something and got great recommendations from criminal lawyers that I worked with on other matters).
Chris, blogs are frankly an excellent way to finding by taking a little time. All the other things mentioned here are directories which really give you little more than yellow pages with a little website puffery.
Your state bar association probably has a lawyer referral service. Your county bar may have one. There are several commercial services out there: lawyers.com, findlaw.com, legalmatch.com, but be aware that lawyers pay to be members of those websites.
Your absolutely best way to find a good lawyer: ask someone — a friend, a business colleague — whom you know and trust for a referral. Your next best way: contact the Better Business Bureau or your state’s bar association. Your third best way: contact the local chamber of commerce or your county’s bar association. The Yellow Pages (although we all use them, so most lawyers do advertise in them) should be your last-ditch effort.
Find a local university with a reputable law school. Often, these law schools also have legal clinics available to the public, and they can recommend the best of their alumni who happen to be practicing locally. Outside of “word of mouth” this is probably the next best thing.
I would suggest nolo.com for a cheap/good lawyer, findlaw.com as a sort of generic source (lot of good people in there), but my experience has been – ask people. Ask for a specific lawyer from people you know in your field or who would be dealing with similar industries, problems, contracts, etc that you’re looking to solve by hiring the lawyer.
Here are the links for King County Bar Assc. and the Washington State Bar Assc. Either can give you a referral for an attorney to meet your needs. You can also find out if any complaints have been filed against specific attorneys.
Talk to people you know as well. Shopping for an attorney is far too important to leave it up to a search of the phone.