SELECTING A LAWYER
In selecting a Lawyer, great care
and deliberation are essential. Most Lawyers are extremely well-qualified in the
areas to which they devote their practice. Lawyers have been well-trained by law
schools, their law firms, and the individual lawyers with whom they have had
associations. Most State Bar Associations require not only the successful
completion of law school, but they also require the passing of special bar exams
to be certain that Lawyers understand both the basic precepts of the law which
apply to various fields of law and also the appropriate ethical considerations.
The State Bar Associations and the local Bar Associations assist in the policing
of its members to make certain that Lawyers comply with ethical considerations,
comply with certain rules and regulations, and correctly apply the practice of
In many localities, Lawyers are permitted to advertise in the yellow pages for an area of specialization. Often the area of specialization is regulated by the Bar Association. The Association requires that Lawyers maintain a skill level which mandates the annual completion of additional study in the area of expertise under which each attorney is listed. For example, if an attorney lists his area of expertise to be Corporation Law, then that attorney must, in certain states, maintain continuing legal education for a set number of hours each year in that area of law. This is often true of other areas of specialization such as Trials/Litigation, Administrative Law, Domestic Law, Criminal Law, Bankruptcy Law, etc. In some instances, a special test is required for proficiency in a particular area of law such as Intellectual Properties, including patents, copyrights and trademarks. Often other areas are internally protected by the government agency which administers a particular area of law. An example would be Securities Law, wherein government agencies regulating securities will require Lawyers to meet certain standards and objectives.
Some states and some localities have referral services that will at random refer an individual to an attorney who has developed a certain area of expertise in a specific field, such as Domestic, Bankruptcy, Landlord/Tenant, etc. Additionally, there are certain services that will rank Lawyers or rate Lawyers. However, a great deal of caution should be used in viewing most of these publications since such ratings may be politically motivated. Some services look at the number of years an attorney has practiced. Sometimes special ratings are given to Lawyers who are members of large firms. Therefore, if an attorney is not rated as highly by some of these various services, it does not necessarily mean that the attorney is not extremely skilled or well qualified for that particular purpose. These sources of attorney rankings may be helpful, but should be a secondary matter in the process of selection.
The primary considerations in selecting an attorney should be whether the client feels comfortable with the attorney selected and if he is confident that the attorney is competent in his field of expertise. Much depends upon an individual's judgment, and many times an attorney is hired on the basis of referrals from other individuals who have for one reason or another experienced an attorney/client relationship as a result of work performed. The client must feel very comfortable with the attorney and must feel confident that the attorney selected is the one who can capably handle the client's needs. Some of the questions that would be helpful to most individuals in selecting an attorney include the following:
If you are ready to select a lawyer, go to the Find a Lawyer in your area. attorney listing to help you make a choice.
If, after asking these questions, you are still uncertain about your choice of legal counsel, we suggest you contact your local Bar Association.
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