Skip to main content

How do I look up a lawyer's previous cases?

Los Angeles, CA |

Is it Does have everything? I'm looking for an attorney, the case is very important, but I am afraid of not the possibility of being liable for additional charge at the end (eg. if the lawyer took more time that I thought), etc. What to do in this case? Thanks.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Unfortunately, there is no single database for the information you are seeking. Pacer only provides case information regarding federal cases (civil, bankruptcy, criminal), not state court cases. Information regarding state appellate court cases can be found at:

    However, you won't be able to find trial court information as public information. Members of the Los Angeles County Bar have access to the "Searchable Civil Register":

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

  2. Several points to keep in mind.
    Fees are negotiable to some extent. It will depend on the written agreement what is covered and what is not, flat versus hourly fee, making deposits against future fees, etc.
    This is an interesting phrase:
    "if the lawyer took more time that I thought"
    The amount of time and work that goes into a case is not always known at the beginning. I've certainly had cases where something happened during the representation that created additional work not contemplated at the time I was originally hired. When that happens is the time to discuss that with the client. And for the client to realize that the fee is going to be higher than estimated at the beginning.
    If you find an experienced lawyer in the field of law, you will get a more accurate assessment of the case to start with in addition to a better sense of cost.
    Get all your concerns up front. If you have a "budget" that would be something to discuss, along with a possible cap on fees.;; 703-298-9562, 800-401-1583. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  3. Pacer will tell you information about federal cases but nothing about state cases. You can also use the find a lawyer tool on Avvo to see what client reviews exist for attorneys in the field of law you are looking for. If you have friends or colleagues who can refer you to someone they had a positive experience with that may be a good way to find someone. The most important thing is for you communicate your expectations to the attorney before retaining him/her. You might want to see if you can negotiate a flat fee to limit your costs if that's possible (it will depend on your case and the attorney you speak with). I can tell you from experience, however, that its very difficult to estimate how long it will take to litigate a case and this very difficult to provide a concrete estimate. I wish you the best of luck in finding an attorney to assist you.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

  4. Three separate "forces" dictate how long a case will take and how much time and effort and work will be necessary for the case. Picture a triangle. These are the points of the triangle:

    #1 The Plaintiff and plaintiff's attorney
    #2 The Defendant and defense attorney
    #3 The Court

    (Some cases have more than one defendant, making that point of the litigation triangle even more unmanageable unpredictable by the plaintiff and court.)

    The thing about litigation is that none of these three "points" or participants can effectively and conclusively limit the conduct of either of the other participants, or the consequences and results of what those other two points of the triangle do.

    So, as an example, I could sue you and you could roll over and the case could be wrapped up by next Tuesday with less than 20 hours of attorney work. Or, I could bring the exact same suit against you, with exactly the same grounds and allegations, and you could decide on a scorched-earth defense, and we might still be engaged in active litigation of our dispute 10 years from now. We would both be lots poorer by then, of course.

    No ethical attorney can tell for certain in advance how long your case will take or how much legal work will be required because none of us can read the minds of the other points of the triangle (or of the lawyers advising them). An attorney can only offer informed and experience-based predictions and estimates.

    Litigation is often a war of attrition, drawing down brutally on limited fiscal and emotional resources. "Can I sue?" appears here on Avvo hundreds of times a day. But suing should be a last resort, not first. The litigation plaintiff grabs ahold of the tail of the litigation beast not knowing if there will be found a tiger or a mouse at the other end.

    If your ability and willingness to engage in litigation depends on the absolute certainty and accuracy of your expectations of time and cost, stop in your tracks right now and figure out a different plan. This is not about shopping for the right attorney, or for an ethical attorney. This is about the nature of litigation and what you get when you sign on for a legal fight.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

Personal injury topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics