Car accidents are devastating events. Even those that do not cause significant damage are still often followed by difficult and unresponsive insurance companies and other drivers unwilling to take fault. That is where attorneys can come in. With their help, you can have someone at your side to guide you through the more complicated parts of an auto accident. However, how do you select the right attorney for you?
Your initial research is going to be when you collect a wide pool of attorneys from which to choose. At this point, you are not trying to find the perfect attorney. Rather, you are simply gathering a group of attorneys that practice in the field you are searching for, that practice in your area, and that generally have positive reputations; from here, you can narrow down your search. There are two key ways to gather this pool:
Searching Online – There are a number of resources online that allow interested individuals to look up lawyers according to a set of rankings. US News is known to rank the best law firms. On their website, you can search lawyers by state and field of practice to find the best ones for your particular needs in your area. Additionally, there are resources such as BestLawyers.com, which allow you to browse through a list of lawyers that have been selected through a peer review process. If you would like even further resources, you can employ the use of a website like Avvo.com, which allows you to search for attorneys in your area. This website uses actual client reviews and the lawyers are awarded a star rating based on an average of these reviews.
Asking Friends & Family – Almost everyone has gotten into at least a minor car accident in his or her lifetime; as such, chances are that people you know might be able to give a recommendation on potential attorneys. Because they have had firsthand experience with the attorney, they may be valuable resources when you are performing your initial search. Ask them about their experience(s) with the attorney and see if you can get an idea for what working with that attorney would be like. Even just asking about the process of finding an attorney from someone you know can provide valuable insight for what to expect.
The next step in the process is to look at your pool of attorneys and determine which one is going to be the best fit for your particular needs. This is the part of the process where you have to look at the individual attorneys that you have selected and read through their qualifications to see if they would suit your purposes.
Check Their Credentials – Good attorneys are going to have their credentials listed. The most basic credential that they should have is their J.D., or Juris Doctor, which allows them to practice law in the United States. The next one that to look for is their Bar Admissions to see if they are legally allowed to practice law in your state. Many lawyers also list all of the associations they belong to, which further verifies their legitimacy. These could include the American Bar Association as well as specialized associations that pertain to their field of practice, such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association or the American Health Lawyers Association.
Read Over Their Awards & Achievements – A good lawyer has likely garnered some recognition. This can usually be found on the same site(s) that you did your initial research, as lawyers that are often recognized on these ranking sites are granted awards for their top spots on the list.
Additional Criteria – Lawyers who have had years of experience in practicing law have often accomplished quite a bit. Some attorneys create a number of publications speaking about the various subjects that they practice in, while other attorneys are frequent speakers at conventions and conferences that are hosted by the associations to which they belong. Others are law professors in addition to running their practices. All of these accomplishments are a testament to their expertise and can make them more trustworthy.
Once completing research, it is time to select an attorney. Typically, attorneys will make it easy to set up an initial consultation with them via their website. During this initial consultation, present to them your situation to get a more definite understanding of whether they are suited for your needs.