Beyond just general areas of specialization, if a friend or family member of yours needed a lawyer in another part of the country (e.g. where you didn't know any lawyers personally) how would you recommend they go about finding a lawyer that would be right for their needs?
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
A very solid approach is to talk to friends and trusted persons in your community who have experienced a similar problem you face to get ideas about lawyers. Ask them who their lawyers were and how they rated the lawyer.
Lawyer referral services are another source of information. Many quality lawyer referral services exist to help you sort through all the basics about the lawyer. Those with the highest ratings that are offered can be a good place to start your specific search.
The best way to decide is by talking to the lawyer. The insight into the lawyer's approach can help you decide if the lawyer is right for you. Whether the lawyer is willing to spend a few hours to be your advisor may show you the lawyer will be aggressive in your case later on. Finally, don't make up your mind about hiring a lawyer until you've met him or her.
Real Estate Attorney
In addition to the reasoned suggestions from Mr. Brinkmier, most State Bar Associations will indicate on their web site whether an attorney has been subject to any public disciplinary action. Most lawyers have not, but it doesn't hurt to look up the lawyer on the Bar web site just in case something shows up.
This answer is for general purposes only, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.
If I were looking for an attorney somewhere out of my little world, I would consider whether it would be more appropriate for me to work with an attorney at a larger law firm, midsized law firm, or small practice. The answer to that question many times depends on the legal issue. A small practice, or sole practitioner, will advertise personal attention, but sometimes what ends up happening is that there isn't enough people to do all of the work, or there is only one attorney doing all the work, and communications fall by the wayside. Midsized and larger size firms can get a lot of work done quickly if there is an emergency situation, such as and immediate need pleadings for a business suit, but those firms may make you feel like the small fish, unless you have a dependable contact inside.
Avvo is a great place to start looking for an attorney. Many attorneys painstakingly list all of their positive attributes, and the website will also indicate whether there has been any disciplinary issues with the attorney. Once a list has been made of attorneys that seem suitable, the prospective client should definitely have a meeting with each attorney, or at least a phone call, and then make a decision about what attorney seems most compatible.
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