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How to Check an Attorney�s Credentials

published June 17, 2009

Silas Reed
( 30 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
The Basics

Before you start looking for really good lawyers, you must know that lawyers have specific specializations. This means that not all lawyers are good at every facet of the law. Some lawyers are good at transactional stuff like helping you with wills but aren't as good in the litigation process (the actual courtroom presentation). Some lawyers can be good at negotiations and yet they fail at helping you sue companies for job discriminations and such. The best thing that you can do, then, is to know which kind of lawyer (or lawyers, if you can afford them) you're going to hire so that they can help you with a specific problem. Get educated with the various kinds of attorneys by going online and researching what sort will fit your case.

Up Front

When you think you've found the right kind (among the myriad lawyers across the state you live in) and made contact and communication, ask him or her up front what sort of education they've acquired and if they have the experience that actually qualifies them to help you solve your problem. Make sure they state specific details or ask them for a copy of their credentials. For example, if you're an immigrant and want help in this matter, make sure that he or she has sufficient experience with various immigration cases. Ask for examples on their cases won or helped to settle.

Background Check

When you've gotten all the information, go online and look for databases on the lists of lawyers that'll help you do a background check. Don't take this lightly and think that just because their names are on the Internet that they must be very good. Try to find as much information on them and check to see if the credentials they've shown you match precisely what you've found. If you sense that something doesn't add up and you think that he/she might be concealing something from you, then go look for other lawyers. There's certainly more out there. If you feel that you still need more in-depth information, then contact the local state bar association so you can inquire about the attorney. Most of these associations have a free online referral service that you can use.

Double Check

If you think that you're satisfied with enough of the information, don't just jump in and hire the person just yet. You need to do a double check on his or her credentials and scrutinize for specific things that may hurt your case. It might not be likely, but when it comes to your legal issues, there's no such thing as being too careful. Request to have the names of his or her past clients so you can contact them yourself and ask what the experience was like. Don't hesitate to do this because these are your legal rights you're talking about. It's always a good idea to have insight and outside perspective as to what kind of person you're going to work with.

So there you have it. Those are the basics on how to check the credentials of a lawyer. As a final tip on how to check for their credentials, make notes of what kind of professional associations the person is associated with as well as organizations he or she's involved in so you'll know if the person is just right for your case. All credentials must be checked and rechecked so you can absolutely assure yourself that this is exactly the kind of person you want to represent and advice you in court.