When you have an urgent or pressing legal matter, you need to find an attorney right away. With the advent of the internet, it has become easier than ever to locate, evaluate and retain a lawyer. However, searching for an attorney online is not as easy as typing “find lawyer” or “find attorney.” Instead, locating an attorney that is skilled and affordable takes a little thought and preparation.
Online Referral Services
Referral services are a great place to start when you want to find lawyers in your area. However, you need to understand that, in most cases, the attorney supplied the information used by the referral service. Most online referral services make their money by offering subscriptions to attorneys to be included in their database. So, for a monthly fee, the referral service will include the lawyer in their database.
Now, this does not mean that the information listed is not true, or that the attorney is not competent and well qualified. Just understand that the referral service is not a source of unbiased information. Therefore, it should not be the sole means of conducting your attorney search.
State Bar Website
Most non-lawyers advise you to contact your state’s bar association or website when advising their readers on how to find an attorney. However, state bar associations are regulatory agencies, not referral services. Other than finding lawyers that are board certified, the agency is usually prohibited by law from referring you to a specific attorney.
That being said, your state bar association website can be useful to find a lawyer who is a specialist in a certain practice area (eg: personal injury, criminal, family). Moreover, it is the primary place where you can determine whether or not your attorney has ever been disciplined or sanctioned for malpractice.
Therefore, your state’s bar association should be used to screen a particular candidate after you find attorneys that fit your list of qualifications.
Google, Bing! or Yahoo
Once you have narrowed the field, you can use search engines to screen a particular attorney. Enter the name of the lawyer or law firm into the search engine and see what comes up.
If the attorney or firm has a website, you will be able to review the information contained there. Usually, you will find information about the lawyer’s areas of practice as well as any news articles detailing successful resolution of cases or disputes. But, remember, the information is supplied by the attorney or law firm. Anyone can purchase a slick website. Therefore, the lawyer or firm website should not be your only means of conducting an attorney search.
It is the other search results that hold a particular interest. These other search engine results will usually return news articles about the attorney or his firm and reveal any community activities or organizations that he or she holds a membership.
The Internet Is A Great Tool To Screen An Attorney
Learn how to find an attorney correctly by using the Internet; and, you minimize the possibility of being enamored by an ad or slick website. Instead, use the internet as a screening tool to narrow your choices in your attorney search. With careful consideration, you can effectively use the internet to find an attorney.