Choosing a Lawyer
Most people who need a lawyer tend to rely on word of mouth recommendations from friends, family, and business associates. Unfortunately, no one has yet devised an objective rating system that takes into account:
  • A lawyer's knowledge and skill in a particular branch of law
  • His success rate at trial and in negotiations
  • His degree of honesty and integrity
  • The cost of his services
  • The overall satisfaction of his clients
Though it will be a laborious and probably inconclusive process, it may be worth your while to investigate whether a lawyer you are considering has any marks against his record. For example, clients may have filed formal complaints, or the state bar association or the courts themselves may have imposed disciplinary actions.

Unfortunately such information on possible malfeasance is not easy to obtain, and you may have to inquire in multiple places, such as:
  • the state bar association (remember that bar associations also are trade groups representing the interests of their members; in this regard, their duties to their members and to the public may come into conflict with each other)
  • the state attorney general's office
  • the state consumer protection bureau
  • the local Better Business Bureau
Moreover, remember that the mere existence of a charge or a complaint, unless upheld by the courts or a disciplinary body, does not mean that wrongdoing occurred. Furthermore, possessing a "clean" record says nothing about how skilled the lawyer is.

If you are seeking a lawyer to represent you in court or in negotiations, be skeptical about his own representations about his record unless you can obtain independent, outside verification. Also remember that the law is complex, with many branches. Depending on what you want done, it may be advisable to seek out a lawyer who specializes in that aspect of the law.

See our list of lawyer specialties or professions page