Finding a Personal Injury Attorney – Best Practices
If the lawyer you are thinking about hiring has a website, check it out. The lawyer’s website may tell you a lot about his or her personality, and it certainly should give you insight in to his or her areas of specialization. If there is something in the website that rubs you the wrong way, you can raise the issue with the lawyer if you choose to go ahead and interview him or her.
Also do a Google search on any lawyer or law firm you consider hiring. Just go to www.Google.com and do a name search. You can also use any other search engine with which you feel comfortable.
Google has a feature that allows you to find recent newspaper articles involving the lawyer or law firm. Just click on “News” and then insert the name you want to search. You may find a wealth of information right at your fingertips. If the lawyer has had recently newsworthy cases, you will be able to read about them. If the lawyer has had disciplinary problems, you need to know this, and the Internet is a great way to access find out.
For example, if you do a Google search on “Evan Aidman,” you will find my website, websites that will help you order this book, other publications I have authored, my synagogue’s website, my high school’s website, and other references. In about five minutes, you will know more about me than I would probably want you to know. It is important to arm yourself with information when you set about hiring an attorney.
Google News only maintains articles for a certain number of days. It is a current, not historic record. Older articles, however, should show up in a regular Google search.
Even if he or she cannot represent you, the first lawyer you call may be able to refer you to someone who can. A referring attorney is ethically bound to refer you to someone who will zealously pursue your case. In addition, lawyers generally receive referral fees when they send clients to one another. A referred attorney may want to work less on your case if part of the settlement goes to the referring attorney. It is important to know how the attorney fees will be divided. If the referring attorney and the referred attorney know that you are informed about referral fees, they will be less likely to try to take advantage of you financially or work less zealously than needed on your case.
In some states, the referring attorney cannot receive a referral fee unless he or she actually works on the case. The referral fee cannot exceed the proportionate amount of work he or she does. The rules of ethics for attorneys vary from state to state. You can call the bar association in your state if you have a concern about a referral fee.
NOTE: It is illegal for lawyers to pay referral fees to non-lawyers. If an attorney offers you money for sending him or her cases-find a new lawyer.
A questionable way to find an attorney is through an advertisement. The Yellow Pages are filled with the ads of PI lawyers, only some of whom are competent. If you must choose a lawyer from an ad, interview several and then investigate the credentials of those you like. Your state or city bar association maintains disciplinary files that can help you to steer clear of unethical practitioners. These files are not always open to the public.
Treat your selection of a personal injury lawyer the way you would any matter of importance in your life. Your choice of a lawyer may make the difference between years of uncertainty and stress, and a rapid, successful, and pleasant experience. Some people actually even enjoy their exposure to this legal process.
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