By Jeremy P. Summers, Attorney at Law, Inc., sponsored content
I mean, there are only about twenty-five attorney billboards per mile on a typical stretch of Alabama interstate. You could always just turn on daytime TV and see approximately eighteen attorney commercials in a five-minute span. Still no luck? You could seek out the sage advice of a random Facebook user on a “What’s Happening In (fill in your hometown here)” group. How about firing up the internet search engines to find out which firms paid the big bucks to be listed at the top?
My point is, finding the right attorney can be a daunting task, but not an impossible task. After being in practice for over twelve years, here are some things that I believe would be helpful (and some things not so helpful) in seeking legal assistance:
- It sounds counterintuitive, but if you need an attorney – ask an attorney. Most attorneys offer a free consult or evaluation of your case. Take some time and have a conversation with the attorney to gauge whether they are a good fit for your needs. As a matter of fact, talk to a few of them. The attorney should be able to tell you if they have experience in the type of work required and an idea of what the costs would be for handling your matter. Ask questions, tell them your concerns, and make sure you have a good understanding of what you are hiring an attorney to do for you.
- If the attorney does not handle that particular area of the law that you need, ask them for a few recommendations of some attorneys that could help you. Often, an attorney can recommend others based on a variety of factors (i.e., reputation, experience, geographic location). Ask for a few names as a way to alleviate somebody just sending you to their friend that needs a little work.
- Use the resources offered by the Alabama State Bar. The State Bar can also be an invaluable tool for non-biased attorney referrals. The State Bar’s website, alabar.org, can also put you in contact with volunteer lawyers and free legal services, as well as the ability to check out an attorney’s “good standing” with the state. Additionally, the website can provide some basic self-help guidelines and approved do-it-yourself forms.
- Beware of social media. You’ve seen it happen when someone asks Facebook for attorney recommendations. Everybody’s friend, neighbor, boss or brother who happens to practice law is mentioned. A wonderful insurance defense attorney in St. Clair County may not necessarily be the best choice for a complicated child custody case in Jefferson County. This can be the legal equivalent of someone asking for a heart surgeon in Cullman and someone recommending a veterinarian in Bessemer.
- Take business review websites with a grain of salt. For every party that was extremely satisfied in a courtroom outcome with their attorney, there is usually an opposing party who is extremely dissatisfied with that same outcome. They all have access to the same ratings and reviews sites, so you may not get the most genuine ratings from an opposing party hiding behind an anonymous avatar.
Although not nearly an exhaustive list, these suggestions may aid you in finding an attorney who fits your needs. There are a lot of good attorneys out there, and despite what countless jokes have been made about them throughout history, most of them are good humans as well. Take the time to find someone you are comfortable with and someone that values you as their client as well.