Finding the best attorney
Often when you need an attorney,
you need one right away. But it's tough to find an attorney in a particular field
for the right price at a moment's notice.
"It's easy to find a lawyer -- it's sometimes
difficult to find the right lawyer," says Jay Foonberg of Bailey
& Partners in Santa Monica, Calif.
there are some short-cuts that can help.
First, find out what kind of lawyer you might need.
Lawyers specialize. If you know a lawyer, any lawyer, call them,
says Foonberg, author of "Finding
the Right Lawyer." Explain your situation and ask what
kind of specialist you might need. Bonus points if the lawyer knows
one or two good attorneys in that area.
you don't know a lawyer, many state or local bar associations run lawyer information
and referral services. For a nominal fee, they will listen to your story and tell
you whether you really need a lawyer. "More than half the people who call
for a lawyer don't need a lawyer," says Foonberg.
do, they can also give you a name. Now you know what type of lawyer you need and
you've got at least a referral.
"Once you find out what
specialty you need, you're a long way toward where you want to be," says
A list of names
you go any further, get a few more names on your list. Here are a few good options:
Professionals who work with a lot
of lawyers. For a real estate attorney, you might contact a real estate agent, broker,
home inspector or property insurance agent. For a tax lawyer, you can ask a CPA
or financial planner.
Civic, professional or social
groups. Professional organizations or networking groups can
be a gold mine for getting referrals, says Jill Lublin, co-author
Magic: Find the Best -- From Doctors, Lawyers, and Accountants to
Homes, Schools, and Jobs." Ask very specific questions:
"Who do you use? And how long have you worked with them?"
Legal associations. Specialty
organizations such as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America
or the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, are also good sources,
says attorney Gayle Rosenwald Smith, author of "Divorce
and Money: Everything You Need to Know." And you know that
your referral will be well versed in this area of the law, she says.
local chapters will give you a list of members in the area or post the information
on the group's Web site.
The Internet. Check
local publications for lawyers who are getting kudos in cases similar
to yours or who are quoted as experts in the field.
a simple guy," says Rick Frishman, co-author of "Networking
Magic." "I want to deal with someone who has dealt with
my best friend. You probably have 10 people you really trust."
who has been in the same situation. Who did they use? Did they like the lawyer
and were they satisfied with the results?
head of your company. OK, if you've been caught doing something that could
ruin your rep or get you fired, this may not be the way to go. But if you're looking
for something fairly routine, go to the president's gatekeeper and ask who the
CEO uses, says Frishman.
"If someone is smart enough to write a book on a subject, then they're probably
one of the top people," says Frishman. "And if a publisher's going to
publish it, they are going to have checked him out."
caveat: Some people self-publish. So if you like the idea of having a major publishing
house vet your attorney, look for a publisher you recognize.