How To Search For a Lawyer Online
When looking for a lawyer, your goal should be to choose someone who is both reputable and skilled, and has a successful track record.
Rather than signing up with the first lawyer you come across, you should invest some time in making an informed decision after conducting a thorough search.
Digitization and information technology has now made it possible for anyone to search for a good attorney online without having to depend solely on the referencesfrom friends and family. Here is everything you need to know about searching for and retaining a lawyer online.
Your Online Options to Look for an Attorney
It is best to use your location and your area of legal jurisdiction in the keywords while you begin your search online. Google’s search engine might be a good place to start your search. However, try not to pick the very first results that come your way. These are generally paid search results.
Here are some other good online search options apart from Google Search:
Online Law Search Directories
There are a number of online search directories that are a great resource of information about a law firm and its lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo are great places to startlooking.
These provide information such as disciplinary records, practice areas, location,and lawyer reviews. You can also consult the state bar association’s online attorney directory. This will give you a list of all available lawyers in your area.
Online Legal Networks
There are a number of online platforms which have a vast network of high-quality lawyers. The models are disparate among the multiple platforms.
However, there mode of operation is generally the same. These platforms allow you to pick and choose among the various lawyers in their network based on your legal requirement.
Most of them offer legal services at alternative fee structures and below market-rates. Priori and WireLawyer are great options. If you are looking for legal advice then you can consider affordable options like LegalZoom. This helps you get solid legal advice from accomplished lawyers who do not charge exorbitant hourly fee.
How to Choose a Lawyer Online?
Finding lawyers online is relatively easy. However, choosing one that serves your purpose can be a bit difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of online reviews that can give you an idea about the lawyer. Here are some considerations which you must keep in mind before retaining the services of a legal counselor.
1. Background Check
Thisis the first step in your quest for a lawyer. After shortlisting few experienced legal pros, contact the lawyer disciplinary agency in your state to confirm that the lawyer is in good standing as a bar member. These listings are easily available online.
It is important to check these references when finding online lawyers. While you are conducting a background check, make sure you look at peer review ratings as well. This will give you an understanding about the lawyer’s professional ability and ethical standards.
If you find a legal counselor that drives a car like Saul Goodman from the hit show Better Call Saul, you may want to go on with your day. Well unless you have an unusual case or need someone to get dirty for you but this is another topic.
Now if that person has Kim Wexler as a partner, you may want to work with her and not him!
Saul –get a better car and stop doing dumb crap! But at least you outsmarted your elitistand nutcasebrother!
2.Check Online Reviews
Apart from conducting a background check, it will be helpful to look at online reviews. You can make this easier by selecting a lawyer from various online platforms.
These have user reviews listed against individual lawyers. However, if you prefer selecting legal help from individual websites, then look at Google reviews. Always take reviews with a pinch of salt because not all of them are correct.
3. Interview the Lawyer
The best and easiestway to assess a lawyer’s legal abilities and personality is by interviewing the lawyer. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation of an hour, at no charge. Make sure you ask a few important questions during this interview.
- ExperienceThe lawyer should have relevant experience in your area of legal need. He should also have had dealt with similar cases like yours. It is best to hire a lawyer who has at least a few years’ practice under his belt. Also, ask the percentage of caseload dedicated to handling your type of legal problem.
- ResultsDepending upon your legal need, ask the lawyer about relevant results. For instance, if you are a victim of personal injury, then inquire about the number of cases a lawyer has negotiated and the settlement amounts or the number of wins in case of jury trials.
- Fee StructureLawyers are free to decide their own fee structure and change it as per the client. Make sure you ask about the fee structure before you retain the lawyer. There are many lawyers who work on contingency fee basis, especially in settlement lawsuits. Contingency fee refers to a fee structure where the lawyer gets a small portion of the settlement amount. You do not pay anything if the lawyer does not obtain any settlement for you. Understand how often you shall be billed and whether he has a representation agreement or a written fee agreement.
- Case handlerIt is common practice for senior partners to move case files to junior associates or worse, paralegals. Make sure you ask who will be working with you and handling your case.
- CredentialsAll lawyers have cleared the bar exam and are technically qualified to practice law in your state. But, they may have obtained specialization, or credentials like the AEP designation. They could also have obtained an LLM (Master of Laws) in a specific area like tax law.
- OthersSome other factors like malpractice insurance and whether key legal tasks are outsourced for function or not are also worth your consideration. It isbest to know how a lawyer will inform of developments in the case. If possible, ask for references from other clients whom you can call.
4. Retain the Best Lawyer
Alawyer interview will leave you in a better position to pick and choose the best candidate. Make sure you are comfortable with the lawyer and find it easy to discuss your problems.
They should also be trustworthy and ethical. After the initial consultation, send a mail to the lawyer asking a couple more questions. If you get a reply within 2 business days, then you know your business is appreciated. Do not retain a lawyer who has not replied even after a week.
Always keep in mind that a rock bottom fee offer could indicate inexperience, incompetence or a poor market reputation of the lawyer.
But at the same time, a higher fee does not always equate with a more qualified attorney. Looking for a lawyer online can expand your options, and increase your chances of identifying the best lawyer for your needs.