Consider Your Need
Remember, much like doctors or any other professional, lawyers have different areas of expertise. You’ll need to find a lawyer who specializes in the area that you need help in. For example, don’t call a personal injury lawyer to help you with your small claims bid to get your last security deposit back, or contact a divorce lawyer when someone’s sued you over a traffic accident. Every lawyer has some basic understanding of the legal system, but not all of them have studied the nuances of or specialize in each particular area. When you begin your legal search, first narrow it down to the type of case you’re dealing with.
Word of Mouth
Personal referrals and professional networks are where most people find legal representation. Almost everyone knows someone who knows a lawyer, the question is whether or not that lawyer specializes in the subject area you need.
Ask your friends and family if they have friends or have done business with a lawyer that represented them well and charged them fairly in the past. Even if the referral turns out to be someone who isn’t an expert in your needed area, they may be able to refer you to someone they trust who is, and personal referrals can be worth more than all the web searches in the world.
Call Your Local Bar Association
Both the American Bar Association and various state and local Bar Associations offer search and referral tools to help you find legal representation based on the type of lawyer you’re looking for. Bar Associations aren’t able to help you directly, but they can give you wholesale listings of practicing and certified lawyers who specialize in your subject area. They won’t help you make the subjective decision of whether or not a lawyer has a track record of successful litigation or charges fairly, but they’re a great place to start narrowing down your search if you don’t have anywhere else to start.
Additionally, look for lawyer’s groups and legal aid groups that specialize in the type of issue you’re facing. Some of this involves web searching, but you can find a lot of this information by calling your state Bar Association. Even if they can’t make specific recommendations, they can direct you to professional groups of lawyers who specialize in different areas, like health care law, employment law, and more.
Contact Your Insurance Company
In many cases, your auto insurance company will defend you in court after an accident, but your home insurance company or renter’s insurance company will also step in to assist in certain other issues as well. Give them a call and ask to speak to their legal department. Even if they can’t represent you for your specific issue, they may be able to refer you to someone who can.
Legal aid sites like LawHelp.org and ProBono.net all offer legal aid and referrals to people who need representation or legal consultation but don’t know where to start. LawHelp specifically offers state-by-state referral listings so you can at least get solid leads on lawyers able to help with your needs or your case.
Nolo is another service that provides a lawyer search service and legal information on a state-by-state basis. Nolo’s database is part lawyer search and part broad legal information service, but lawyers listed on the site have profiles that outline their areas of expertise, education, fees, and experience. Still, as with everything easily available on the web, take your research with a grain of salt and use it as a path for more information as opposed to definitive fact. .