Choosing a lawyer is a big and often stressful decision. You want someone who you can trust and who’s good at what they do. You also want to be comfortable with them, and you want to know that everything is being taken care of.
You can, just as an example, search for the best Phoenix law firms or the best law firms wherever you live, but you need to go a little beyond the surface to gain more insight into your lawyer’s reputation. This is especially true if you don’t find them via a recommendation from someone you know, which many people don’t.
The following are some ways to more comprehensively learn about a lawyer’s reputation before you hire them.
Choosing the right lawyer can be challenging. Here are some ways to more comprehensively learn about a lawyer’s reputation before you hire them.
Look Up Their Records
You can find a lot of background information on an attorney you’re thinking about hiring by looking up records on the school they went to, any books or articles they might have published or contributed to, and their success rate in the cases they handle.
You should do a Google search with the lawyer’s name and then include keywords like malpractice or pending investigations.
Finding Out If a Lawyer Has Been Disciplined
Before you hire an attorney, and especially if you aren’t familiar with them, you need to contact the legal disciplinary agency in the state where that person works. You can then confirm they’re in good standing with their state bar.
Some attorneys are only licensed in one state, and others have licenses in several states.
Once you find out where the attorney is licensed, you can go to the American Bar Association’s website, where you’ll find a listing of the state disciplinary agency.
You can go to that site and type in the attorney’s name in the state bar record and learn if he or she has been disciplined.
Every state bar has a disciplinary organization to monitor attorneys and investigate complaints. If an attorney violates any ethical rules, they’re disciplined as the organization sees appropriate.
There are a wide variety of reasons an attorney could be disciplined, including not paying their dues to the bar, all the way up to misusing client funds.
Go To Third-Party Review Sites
Your attorney or the person you’re thinking about hiring might have client testimonials on their website, but this isn’t enough. You should go to third-party sites where people leave reviews for attorneys like Super Lawyers.
If you go to Super Lawyers, you’ll find listings of the best attorneys in your area based on their reputation and peer nominations.
You can also check sites like AVVO.
Ask to Speak to Prior Clients
If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re hiring the right person, you should ask to speak to a previous client, or perhaps a few. These clients will tell you first-hand what it was like to work with the person, and that can help you decide.
It’s like referrals, so an attorney is probably only going to recommend clients who they think will vouch for them, but still, it’s worthwhile.
Ask Another Attorney
If you know another attorney in a different field (not a direct competitor), they can actually be a good source of information to learn more. You can ask them to recommend attorneys to you or you can ask them about a person you have in mind.
Other attorneys in your local area tend to have a good idea of other top professionals in their field, and they’re likely to be honest with you about it.
Can You Report A Lawyer for An Ethics Violation?
All of this then brings the question of what you should do if you’ve already started working with an attorney and you want to report them for what you feel is an ethics violation. Lawyers do make mistakes, but then there are situations that go well beyond mistakes.
A lawyer has a high burden of responsibility. They’re dealing with situations like personal injury, criminal charges, and child custody. You hire a lawyer to represent your best interests in all ways, which is why there is a strict code of ethics lawyers are required to follow.
The American Bar Association publishes something called the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, outlining best practices and examples of ethical violations.
If you believe your attorney has broken their ethical requirements, you can submit a complaint form to your state disciplinary board, where it will then go through an investigation process.
Along with clients filing complaints, judges and other lawyers can as well.
What are your tips for learning about a lawyer’s reputation?
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