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10 Tips for Finding Right Lawyer: How Can They All be THE BEST?

January 14, 2008 by Steven M. Gursten

How Can All lawyers in Michigan be The Best?
As a lawyer myself, I have always been bothered by how many lawyers advertise. And the internet seems to make most of these problems worse. When it comes to selecting a lawyer to help you, there are very few rules to protect the public from false or misleading advertising. This lack of rules is the reason why so many personal injury lawyers have websites and advertisements calling themselves the “best lawyer in Michigan” or “Michigan’s top personal injury lawyer.”

How can they all be the best lawyer? The problem usually starts when you see lawyers using quotation marks. Putting an eye-catching tagline like “the best lawyer” in quotes allows these lawyers to say they are the best without having to attribute it to any independent, trusted third party source. Think Consumer Reports, but for lawyers instead of refrigerators. These self-proclaimed statements of legal ability are not based upon that lawyer’s trial verdicts or settlement results, and they are not the opinions of journalists who cover the legal profession. In fact, they are not based upon any objective or verifiable accomplishment. It is simply puffery.

So if you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, for example, how can you find an excellent lawyer to help you? Here are ten tips on finding the right lawyer.

1. Avoid the big lawyer referral directories: Many of these have catchy names but are owned by non-lawyers who sell states and cities to the highest bidder to make money. A lawyer will bid against other lawyers to “own” cities in states like Michigan. To be listed as the top lawyer or best lawyer in cities like Detroit or Grand Rapids or Flint, the lawyer writes the biggest check.

2. Look for independent lawyer evaluations. There are many respected attorney rating services. Is the attorney or lawyer you are looking to hire listed in “The Best Lawyer in America,” “Pre-eminent Law Firm” or “Super Lawyer?” Does the attorney have an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell? An AV Rating is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Very few lawyers and law firms in Michigan have this top rating.

3. Do your own research for a lawyer. Talk to friends and family members who worked with lawyers and ask them about the experience. Consider using the internet to find lawyer evaluations from people who have had similar accidents.

4. Who do the lawyers use? Who do lawyers refer their own family to after an auto accident? Often, it is not the lawyers who spend the money on billboards and phone books. Find out who the real experts are.

5. Experience matters. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident, you want a lawyer who is familiar with the medicine, knows the defense doctors, and who has litigated other traumatic brain injury cases.

6. What do the newspapers report about lawyers? There are legal newspapers that closely follow the legal profession. Investigate what these papers have reported about the lawyer or law firm you are considering.

7. Results matter. Does the lawyer you are considering to hire actually try personal injury cases or just settle everything? Some of the biggest advertisers for automobile accidents have not tried an auto accident case in years. Most lawyers who call themselves the best have never received a top verdict or big settlement. Check legal publications, such as the Michigan Lawyers Weekly, that report the top auto accident verdicts and settlements each year in Michigan.

8. Associations matter. Is the attorney actively involved in important lawyer associations in the area you need help with? For example, if you have been in an accident, you may want to see if the attorney is a member of the Michigan Association for Justice. If a family member was injured or killed in a truck accident, it is important to see if the lawyer you are considering has held a position demonstrating expertise in the Truck Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice.

9. Look for indications of a lawyer’s experience. Is the lawyer who you are considering experienced? Or are auto accidents just one of many different areas of law that they will handle? A lawyer who is experienced in one area should try to educate the client. Can you find articles and educational materials that demonstrate a true commitment to educating clients?

10. Finally, trust your “gut.” Are phone calls returned? Is the law firm clean and the staff friendly? If you were involved in a serious automobile accident, remember the relationship you make with that lawyer may last for years depending on the court, city and docket. Ultimately, you want to choose a lawyer that you like and that you feel comfortable with.

To see how Michigan Auto Law measures up, refer to our verifiable Quick Facts about our law firm.

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