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Choosing A Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury attorney advertising is rising rapidly. Every time you turn on your TV or radio there are more personal injury attorney advertisements. Ironically, most personal injury attorneys and, in my opinion, most of the better personal injury attorneys, did not want to advertise and resisted for a long time.
That is quickly changing. Many of the better personal injury attorneys are now advertising because like it or not, they realize that advertising is not going away. So how does a seriously injured person determine whether a given advertising attorney is one of the better attorneys?
First, the problem: anyone can advertise. Legal experience, skill or expertise in a particular legal specialty is not required to advertise. Attorneys with little or no experience, skill or expertise can advertise heavily in local phone books, billboards, television and radio advertising.
These attorneys can claim huge verdicts where you to live to entice you to call quickly. Unfortunately, such claims may be very misleading. There are too many examples of attorneys with limited or no experience trying cases locally or anywhere else advertising heavily and making such claims. Historically, some of the biggest advertisers did not try cases at all and simply farmed them out to other attorneys in exchange for generous referral fees.
So how do you get beyond the advertisements to find a highly experienced attorney with expertise in your type of case? Think about what you would do before hiring any professional to help you with a very serious matter affecting your life. You would not just respond to the first TV commercial or call the person with the most billboards. You would do some research.
Fortunately there are several easily accessible research tools. You can check the attorneys’ credentials by visiting “The Best Lawyers in America,” (www.bestlawyers.com), Martindale-Hubbell (www.martindale.com) and (www.abota.org).
“The Best Lawyers in America” is a national organization that lists by specialty the attorneys [and firms] in each geographical who other attorneys rate among the best in their specialty. As you would expect these attorneys are highly experienced in their fields. Look for firms who have several attorneys listed in the personal injury section – attracting such attorneys says a lot about the quality of the firm.
The American Board of Trial Advocates is another excellent resource because it has rigorous admissions standards and only admits highly experienced trial attorneys. This is very important because the better personal injury attorneys are all highly experienced trial attorneys
In serious matters affecting your life you want to know if in addition to superior experience and legal skills, the attorneys and firms also practice at the highest ethical standards. “Martindale-Hubbell” is a highly respected national publication that uses peer reviews to rate attorneys and firms on both the quality of their legal work and their ethical standards. Look for attorneys and firms that receive both an “A,” their highest legal quality grade and a “V” their highest ethical grade.
Additional potential sources are other attorneys or friends and family who are familiar with the legal community. This can be especially helpful if they have had a positive experience with the attorney or firm they are recommending.
After you narrow your search through such inquires and the web sites suggested above, go to the firm's website to learn more about their experience in the specialty that you need. Then meet with the attorney. Ask whether they have taught Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Attorneys who teach these courses are teaching other attorneys and are usually the most experienced and highly respected in their field.
Also ask who will be in charge of your case and who will try it. While it is common for less experienced attorneys to work on your claim, a senior attorney should be involved from start to finish. Your relationship and comfort level with the attorney is important. Look for an attorney that is courteous and is considerate of your time and who is responsive to your calls and questions. Don’t ever feel pressured to make a decision on the spot.
Following the suggestions above should quickly and easily help you get beyond the advertisements and get to a highly experienced attorney with expertise in your type of case.
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