Spend at least as much effort to find your lawyer as you would to find a barber.
If you moved to a new city, you would probably ask around before you chose a barber (or a hairdresser). At the very least, you might talk to somebody who had gotten good results. And your hair will grow back in a few weeks. Hiring a lawyer is a whole different story. If your problem is a criminal charge, then the result is something that you'll be living with for years to come. Do your homework. The Yellow Pages is only a starting point. Talk to someone who has actually had to hire a DUI lawyer. Or go to a lawyer who practices some other specialty, and ask him (or her) who is the best DUI lawyer in town.
If you want to find a shark, look in the water.
If you need a trial lawyer, go to the courthouse. Ask the people who work there: deputies, bailiffs, court reporters. They see lots of lawyers, and they know who is good and who is not. They may give you a few names. Often, court employees will tell you that they aren't supposed to make recommendations, but be persistent. If you strike up a conversation and make a friend, you are likely to at least find out who to avoid.
It may be hard to believe, but most lawyers never try a case in their entire careers. When you talk to lawyers, ask them how many trials they have had. Get details. Civil or criminal? Jury trials or judge trials? Wins or losses? How many in the last year? In the last month? You wouldn't want to have your appendix taken out by a doctor who had never operated before. Many criminal lawyers won't try DUI cases, but instead try to negotiate a guilty plea on every case.
Don't hire a general practitioner to do a specialized job.
Some types of cases don't demand specialized knowledge. Certain types, such as DUI cases, do. More than any type of criminal case, except perhaps homicides, DUI cases involve detailed scientific evidence. A complete defense requires command of principles of chemistry, biology and physics, and familiarity with hundreds of scientific studies. Ask your prospective lawyer if he has training in breath testing or the field sobriety tests. Don't be pennywise and pound foolish. If it's worth hiring a lawyer at all, then it's worth hiring the best lawyer you can afford.
Understand the limitations of any lawyer.
You are hiring a lawyer, not a magician. Beware of false promises. Any lawyer that tells you that a case is a "lock" is simply not trustworthy. Sad to say, an unscrupulous lawyer can make worthless guarantees with the knowledge that, if things go wrong, then the client will not be in a position to do much about it. If a lawyer tells you that a case is a slam dunk, do one thing: Ask him to put his guarantee in writing. A conscientious and competent lawyer will tell you the truth. No one can guarantee a particular outcome.