How Do I Pick a Lawyer?
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For any given area of law, there are scores of lawyers vying for your business, and it can be extremely difficult to choose the best one. If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney in Tampa, Florida, for example, you might need several days of dedicated time to wade through the list of 100 attorneys offered by a single lawyer referral site.
So, how do you pick the lawyer who’s right for your case? Consider the following criteria:
Attorneys in Florida are not required to be board-certified in order to practice in their chosen area of law – and, in fact, board certification is only granted to approximately seven percent of all Florida attorneys. To become board certified, an attorney must demonstrate expertise in the certification area, pass a peer review and an examination, and take a battery of continuing legal education classes specific to that certification area. Then they must recertify every five years to maintain certification.
Board certification in the area of law most vital to your case is a strong indicator that you can rely on the strength of your attorney’s advice.
An attorney who started practicing in personal injury last week is unlikely to know as much as an attorney who has been practicing personal injury law for decades. Though all attorneys are trained to interpret the law, there is a world of difference between a seasoned PI attorney and a recent law school graduate. If you want someone to bake a magnificent wedding cake, you’re likely to hire an experienced pastry chef – not your cousin who likes to read dessert cookbooks but who has never actually entered a kitchen.
The more experience an attorney has, the less likely it is that he or she will make rookie mistakes on your case.
The most experienced attorneys are generally sought after by prestigious legal organizations such as the American College of Trial Lawyers, which consistently strives to improve the practice of civil and criminal trial law. ACTL is a by-invitation-only organization whose members are among the top 1% of the local attorney population in any given area. In making your choice among different lawyers, keep in mind that a member of ACTL is likely to be ethical, experienced, and respected by the courts.
Within the legal profession, attorneys are regularly paid to argue with one another. We fight against our peers over and over again on factual questions, legal issues, and sometimes even moral grounds. It is especially telling, then, when an attorney has been nominated for an award by the members of his or her local bar association and has been recognized for excellence within the legal profession by those who are often opposed to his or her legal positions. Such a lawyer is often able to more effectively advocate for his or her clients because even other attorneys will be inclined to respect his or her arguments and case-related requests..
If an attorney has been given a peer-based award such as Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers, chances are they will be more able to leverage their legal expertise and reputation to help get you the settlement you deserve.
At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we have been practicing personal injury law since 1967, and our firm’s partners are found on the rolls of board-certified attorneys, ACTL, Best Lawyers, and Super Lawyers, among many other legal honor organizations. If you have been injured in an accident or through the negligence of a doctor or lawyer, we would be pleased if your search for a lawyer led you to us. We would fight hard and tirelessly on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.