Many instances in life will have you knocking at a lawyer’s doorstep. Being caught in a web of technical legalities is not an easy walk in the park, as even the slightest slip-up can land you in hot water. However, when it comes to settling on a law firm, you have to put a lot of thought and consideration into the decision.
Your lawyer acts as your shield; therefore, you must ensure that the shield you choose is strong, sturdy, and reliable. In other words, you must check a law firm’s credibility before signing them as your legal representatives. In this article, we will share useful tips to help you learn more about a law firm and its practice before finalizing them as your attorneys. Let’s get started.
1. Physical Presence
Start with shortlisting local firms. They should have offices in the city where you need representation. Many large law firms practice across cities and states and will be more than willing to take on your case, even if they don’t have a physical presence in your city. However, that’s not ideal.
If a firm has an office in your city, they will likely be familiar with the local courts and their structure. This is one of the key elements of succeeding at trial. For example, if you have a personal injury case in Albuquerque, hiring a local firm like Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm is much better than hiring a law firm based out of California.
2. Client Portfolio
Customer satisfaction is a little tricky in law because regardless of how well an attorney performs, they can’t guarantee the judge and jury’s final verdict. Therefore, law firms and lawyers have to work extra hard to retain clients. A great way to vet the reputation and credibility of a law firm is to go through its client portfolio.
Most law firms advertise their client portfolio on their website. However, if you can’t find it online, you can send an e-mail requesting that the firm profile be shared with you, which usually contains a client portfolio. If the portfolio contains prominent businesses and influential persons, you can be sure the law firm delivers quality services and representation. On the other hand, if you don’t find a client portfolio, you should think twice before hiring the firm.
3. Team Credentials
Top firms hire top talent. The lawyers’ credentials can vouch for the firm’s credibility. On the firm’s website, go through the qualifications of the partners and associates. After all, it is the lawyers who will be handling your case, not the firm itself.
Another thing you should look for when going through the team profile is whether any lawyer at the firm has specialized experience in cases similar to yours. For instance, if a partner’s profile talks about their expertise in family law, you know the firm will do a great job representing you in your divorce or custody proceedings.
4. Success Rate
The first course of action in any legal dispute is to try and settle the dispute before the case moves to trial. However, a trial is inevitable in some cases, and you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. A trial is the true test of an attorney. Every word that comes out of an attorney’s mouth has to be carefully curated to build their client’s narrative. Therefore, trial success is one of the best ways to judge a firm’s reputation and competence.
Of course, there’s no definite way to get a breakdown of the firm’s exact win-to-loss ratio. However, some internet research can give you a fair idea of how frequently the firm has won at trial. Sift through public records and legal news, look through the firm’s website, check the individual attorney’s LinkedIn profile, and use whatever other source of information is available on the internet to gauge whether the firm can succeed at trial.
5. Client Testimonials
Another way to check a firm’s reputation and credibility is to turn to their existing or former clientele and hear what they have to say. Past clients can detail the performance and credibility of your lawyer. Go online and see if there are any testimonials from former clients. If not, you can try reaching out to people or companies that the firm has previously represented to get a fair idea.
At the same time, you can also ask around in your circle and see if you find someone through the six degrees of separation chain who has previously worked with or been represented by the law firm. This will give you a more authentic review of the firm’s credibility.
6. Schedule a Meeting
Finally, the best way to judge a law firm is to go in for a consultation. The attorneys’ attitude will tell you all you need to know about the firm and its practice. The best lawyers always outline all possible scenarios and prepare their potential clients for the worst. This is because these attorneys value legal ethics and have a responsible practice that requires them not to give false hope to their clients.
However, some lawyers only see clients as the golden goose and push to initiate legal action without informing the client of the risks and chance of failure. Some even advise their clients against their best action, only to prolong the case proceedings and make more money off of them. Therefore, if any attorney seems overly optimistic and tries to push you to file a claim, it might be a good idea to get a second opinion.
In addition to the above, you can check a law firm’s credibility and reputation in many other ways. However, there is no guarantee of how your case will turn out. At least by doing your due diligence, you can pick a lawyer who will give you your best chance at winning.