Online Attorney Directories – How to Evaluate a Legal Directory on the Internet

There are a number of websites that purport to have lawyers waiting to help. The reality is most of these websites are only attorney directories created by marketing teams who have no understanding of the law or, in many cases, who have no connection to a real lawyer or law firm.

These online attorney directories often end up in the top of the search engine results. The marketing teams help ensure this happens. This leaves you, the consumer who is looking for an attorney, with the obstacle of having to evaluate the online attorney directory. Here are some tips for evaluating online lawyer directories as you search for the right lawyer.

  • Determine whether the directory is a paid directory.
  • Paid directories are those that require lawyers to pay a fee to be listed in the directory. Paid directories usually have the most accurate contact and practice area information. Attorneys who pay to be included in the directory have an interest in making sure their information is correct.

    The downside to these directories is they may have very few attorney listings. This raises the question as to what types of attorneys pay to be listed on an online legal directory. Many successful attorneys do not have to incur this expense in order to carry out their trade. Other very good attorneys do incur this expense, but most of them do not do it regularly. For example, attorneys who are just starting out, are changing practice areas, or are relocating to another state may initially use these directories as they establish their new law practices. Is this the type of lawyer you want to hire? If so, the paid legal directory may be just what you are looking for.

  • Scrutinize free attorney directories.
  • Not all free online lawyer directories are bad. There are some very good ones. The best online legal directories usually have some direct involvement by attorneys themselves. For example, many free online attorney directories have forums where lawyers answer free legal questions. This allows the attorneys to get the word out about their practice and their expertise, while helping point folks in the right direction.

    Some other free online attorney directories focus on compiling contact information for lawyers. Most of these directories compile the information without any direction or input from the lawyers who are listed in the directory. These directories stand out as they usually just provide a listing of attorneys. These directories often scrape the information off of legitimate websites with the sole aim of generating advertising dollars for themselves.

    A recent trend is for these websites to have an attorney profile page that can be “claimed” by the attorney. The purpose here is to bring visitors to the directory using the search engines thereby generating advertising revenues for the directory. The directory may also hope the lawyer will notice the profile and “claim” it by entering their information. Very few attorneys actually claim profiles in this manner. Indeed, many of them have to contact legal directories and ask to have their names removed from the directory. Thus, you should avoid any attorney directory that indicates attorneys should “claim” their profile.

  • Avoid attorney rating sites.
  • Attorneys help clients with a multitude of legal issues and the facts of each case are different. The work of attorneys cannot be boiled down to a number or other rating. These rating systems often try to gauge an attorney by the number of years the attorney has been in practice. Older is not always better. Statistics show that most complaints filed with state bar associations are filed against attorneys who have practiced a number of years. These complaints relate to failing to provide quality client service to failing to keep abreast of the law. While it is somewhat rare to see the same complaints filed against younger attorneys, this has no bearing on how the attorney is likely to handle your particular legal matter. You should avoid attorney directories that rate attorneys in this manner.

  • Avoid the attorney directory that includes prices.
  • Attorneys are highly regulated. The attorney professionalism rules for every state say that attorneys must charge reasonable fees. What is reasonable for a particular matter is dependent upon a great number of factors. Unless you have provided all of this information to the attorney directory, it should not quote prices. This seems like common sense, but it needs to be said. Avoid attorney directories that include pricing information.

    These steps should help you screen the online attorney directories you find in the search engine results.

    Associate Attorney Employment Agreement

    Most law firms that are made up of more than one person are set up as a hierarchy with Partners at the top and varying levels of Associate Attorneys below them. Partners are generally the owners of the business and Associates are employees. The Associates are often given the opportunity to work their way up the ladder to become Partners and share in the profits of the firm instead of just receiving wages.

    It is important to have a written agreement or contract between the Associates and the Firm that spells out everyone’s duties and obligations as well as the conditions under which they may advance. The following is a draft contract between an Associate and a law firm that can be customized to meet the needs of a law firm hiring an Associate Attorney.

    This AGREEMENT made of this 21st day of March, 2011, between the Law Offices of at Smith, herein referred to as the “Firm” and Joe Blow, hereinafter referred to as the “Attorney.”

    Recitals

    The Firm is a Sole Proprietorship, operating as a business rendering legal services. If, during the term of this contract, the Firm changes to another form of business organization, this contract will continue to be binding on both the Firm, under it’s new formation, and on the Attorney.

    The Attorney is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.

    The Firm and the Attorney desire to have the attorney practice law as an employee of the Firm.

    It is agreed by and between the parties as follows:

    Section 1. Employment and Duties.

    Employment. The Firm employs the Attorney and the Attorney accepts employment as an attorney in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.

    Full Time. The Attorney shall devote full working time and attention on the practice of the law for the Firm and the Attorney shall not, without the written consent of the Firm, directly or indirectly rendered services of a professional nature to or for any person or firm except as an employee of the Firm.

    Duties and Assignments. The Firm shall determine the duties to be performed by the Attorney and the means and the manner by which those duties shall be performed. The Firm shall determine the assignment of the clients to the Attorney and the Attorney shall perform services for such clients assigned. The Firm determine the rates at which the Attorney’s work shall be billed.

    Section 2. Compensation

    Salary. For all services rendered by the Attorney under this Agreement, the Firm shall pay the Attorney and annual salary of $58,000, payable weekly or as may otherwise be mutually agreed. The salary may be changed by mutual agreement of the parties at any time.

    Bonus. In the addition to the salary specified in 2.1., the Attorney may receive a bonus. The bonus, if any, will be in such amounts as the Firm may determine in its absolute discretion.

    Additional Compensation. In addition to the salary and bonus specified in items 2.1 and 2.2, the Attorney will be eligible to receive a percentage of the Firm’s portion of Personal Injury cases. The Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney has performed as the primary attorney on that case. Additionally, the Attorney will receive 10% of the Firm’s payment from a Personal Injury case, when the Attorney personally brought the case to the Firm.

    Section 3. Partnership. It is the policy of the Firm to employ as attorneys persons who will be given the opportunity to become partners in the Firm. The Firm after a certain number of years will make the determination as to whether the Attorney will be admitted to partnership. The Firm expects to make this determination with respect to this Attorney, no earlier than July 1, 2005, and no later than July 1, 2007.

    Section 4. Facilities.

    Office. The Firm shall furnish the Attorney with office space, staff assistance, and such other facilities and services as are reasonably necessary to the performance of the Attorney’s duties.

    Liability Insurance. The Firm shall maintain professional liability insurance covering the acts and omissions of the Attorney in performance of the Attorney’s professional duties.

    Travel. The Attorney may be required to travel on business for the Firm, and shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, provided, however, that a detailed account of such expense is provided to the Firm.

    Professional Societies. The Firm shall pay the Attorney’s dues for memberships in The State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association.

    Education. The Firm shall pay the reasonable amount of expenses incurred by the Attorney to maintain or improve the Attorney’s professional skills. The Attorney agrees to submit to the Firm such documentation as may be necessary to substantiate such expenses

    Section 5. Additional Benefits.

    Medical Insurance. The Firm agrees to provide medical coverage for the Attorney, the Attorney’s spouse and dependents under a group accident and health insurance policy, the terms and benefits of which shall be determined by the Firm. The Attorney is currently covered under her spouse’s policy and does not require such coverage currently. That Attorney will notify the Firm at such time that she needs this benefit.

    Vacation. The Attorney shall be entitled to three weeks vacation time each year however, the Attorney’s vacation will be scheduled at such time as will least interfere with the business of the Firm. The Attorney is further entitled to time off on all holidays normally celebrated in accordance with the Firms stated policy.

    Life Insurance. The Firm may provide group life insurance coverage, in amounts which shall be determined by the Firm.

    Retirement Plan. The Attorney shall participate in any Firm qualified retirement plan according to the terms of said plan as amended from time to time.

    Disability. In the event the Attorney is unable to perform his or her regular duties as a result of personal disability the Firm will pay the Attorney’s salary during such disability for a total of ninety (90) days in any 24 month period.

    Section 6. Operations.

    Records and Files. All records, documents, and files concerning clients of the Firm shall belong to and remain the property of the Firm. On termination of employment, the Attorney shall not be entitled to keep or reproduce the Firms’ records, documents or files relation to any client unless the client shall specifically request that its files be transmitted to the Attorney.

    Fees. All fees and compensation received or realized as a result of the rendition of professional legal services by the Attorney shall belong to and be paid to the Firm. Any fee or honoraria received by the Attorney for professional services or other professional activities performed by the Attorney shall belong to the Firm.

    Section 7. Term.

    One Year, Automatic Extension. The term of this Agreement shall begin on the date hereof and continue for a period of one year and shall be automatically extended from year to year unless terminated in accordance with this section.

    Events of Termination. This Agreement shall be terminated upon the happening of any of the following events:

    The death of the Attorney.

    The determination of the Firm that the Attorney has become disabled.

    Dismissal for cause of the Attorney as hereinafter provided.

    Occurrence of the effective date of termination, notice of which has been given in by either party to the other, so long as there are at least sixty (60) days between giving of the notice and the effective date of termination.

    The mutual written agreement of the Attorney and the Firm to termination.

    Termination on Disability. The Firm may determine that the Attorney has become disabled for purposes of the Agreement in the event that the Attorney shall fail, because of illness or incapacity, to render for ninety (90) days or more in any two-year period, services of the character contemplated by the Agreement, and thereunder shall be deemed to have been terminated as of the end of the calendar month in which such determination was made.

    Causes for Dismissal. The Firm may dismiss the Attorney for cause in the event it determines there has been continued neglect by the Attorney if his or her duties, or willful misconduct on the part of the Attorney, including buy not limited to a finding of probable cause by the Bar for investigation a complaint filed with its discipline system or the filing of criminal charges against the Attorney, which would make retention of the Attorney by the Firm prejudicial to the Firm’s best interest.

    Section 8. Miscellaneous.

    Notices. All notices under this Agreement shall be mailed to the parties hereto at the following respective addresses:

    Attorney:____________

    Firm: ____________

    A change in the mailing address of any party may be effected by serving written notice of such change and of such new address upon the other party.

    Invalidity. The invalidity or unenforcibility of any provision or provisions of this Agreement shall not affect the other provisions, and this Agreement shall be construed in all respects as id any invalid or unenforceable provisions were omitted.

    Arbitration. All disputes, differences and controversies arising out of, under, or in connection with this Agreement shall be settled and finally determined by Arbitration under the then existing Rules of the American Arbitration Association.

    The parties have executed this Agreement as of the date and year first above written.

    By:____________________________________________________

    How to Go About Selecting an Attorney For Your Case

    How to Select a Personal Injury Attorney

    While there are many factors that affect whether a client wins or loses a personal injury case, or affect the level of the settlement, selecting the right personal injury attorney makes the most difference in winning the case. So, how should one go about selecting a personal injury attorney who will get the best results, and the best settlement, for the case?

    Most personal injury attorneys have free consultation. You, the client, should use the consultation not only to have the attorney assess your case, but also to interview the attorney to make sure your case will get the attention it deserves. The first indication as to whether you and your case will get the attorney’s full and undivided attention is how you are treated during the free consultation. Obviously, you should expect to discuss the case with an attorney, not with a paralegal, or other members of the attorney’s staff. After all, you are not hiring a paralegal; you are hiring an attorney to understand your case, research the facts of the case, research the law and win your case for you. You want to be able to talk to the attorney first hand, not through intermediaries.

    Once you meet with the attorney, outline your case and answer whatever questions the attorney may have. You should then ask the following basic questions. The answers that you get should determine the level of comfort you have regarding the level of attention that the attorney will give you and your case:

    1. Who will be handling and researching your case. Is that person an attorney or a member of the staff?

    2. If your case goes to trial, will the attorney be fully involved in the litigation or would he outsource the litigation without any involvement?

    3. Will the attorney be your contact at the attorney’s office? If so, will he be available during office hours as well as after hours? Would he give you access to his direct telephone, including his cellular phone?

    It is a fact that at the offices of some personal injury attorneys, clients come in contact with paralegals and other office staff but never with an attorney. If the attorney responds that his “competent” staff will give their full attention to your case, get a clue. If the attorney is reluctant to give you his cellular number to contact him anytime you have a concern, get another clue.

    Many of my clients have confided in me that the reason why they have not selected other attorneys before knocking on my door was the fact that they could not talk to an attorney. They were able to talk to a paralegal or other staff, but not the attorney.

    If you are not able to talk to a personal injury attorney during the consultation, or if you do not feel comfortable that your case will be getting the full, undivided attention of the personal injury attorney, find another attorney. There are many good attorneys out there who are anxious to give you and your case their full, undivided attention.

    Ramzy Ladah
    Las Vegas Personal Injury, LLC
    http://www.ladahlaw.com