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.

    Are Attorneys Above The Law

    If you have ever been in the regrettable situation where you need the assistance of a good attorney, then you know how much of a blessing they can be. It is possible that your marriage is falling to pieces, and you have children that your visitation rights you need resolved; or maybe you have been injured in an accident, and need to make assistance making a claim against the party that is at fault. No matter what your need, the right attorney can help make the entire procedure much easier.

    Nevertheless, regardless of all the good work many attorneys do, there are a large number of attorneys who operate on the other side of the fence. These are the ones who will rip their clients off, ignore and break the law themselves in order to enrich their own lives.

    These same attorneys will use suspicious moral practices to get questionable results, all of which directly affects you.
    “Quis Custodes Ipsos Custodiet”, by the poet Juvenal, which means “Who Shall Watch The Watchers Themselves”, is an old Latin saying that sums up this situation perfectly – It is extremely apt in these situations, for if we cannot trust our protectors to actually protect us, what can we do? Who punishes the attorneys when they break the law?

    Terrifying Statistics

    Even though you may believe that attorneys who break the law are in the minority, the number of incidents that have been brought to the public’s notice is on the rise. Some of the most recent examples of this are:

    o In 2001, a total of ELEVEN attorneys in Tennessee were still practicing law, even though there was a list of charges against them which included bank fraud, perjury, and even one attorney who was to blame for his failure to deliver evidence, which caused an innocent man to be kept in prison for four years on a rape charge.

    o This year in Warren, Ohio an attorney was charged with fraud, including deceiving an elderly woman out of over $80,000

    o Also this year, two attorneys in Boise, Idaho, were convicted of shocking financial dealings relating to real estate purchases at University Place

    Yet, in spite of these findings, and the guilty parties acknowledging their criminal behavior, they are still permitted to work and practice law. Why is this, and what can you do about it if it affects you?

    The Censure Debacle

    While a child is growing up, and if they do something wrong, we as parents would punish them – this is how we have all learned right from wrong. The same in goes in our adult life – we all know that if we break the law, we will get punished. Depending on what it is we have done wrong or accused of, the punishment can vary – from an official warning for something minor, to losing your driving license for a road traffic offense, to spending time in jail embezzlement or something even more serious. There are even times when someone has spent time incarcerated when actually innocent.

    However, the same set of laws do not seem to apply to attorneys. When they do something unlawful, as a rule, it does not look as if it affects their job too much, because they are still permitted to practice law. Still yet, if they are punished in a more serious manner, you can bet your bottom dollar it will not be anywhere near as severe as how we would be dealt with for the same crime.

    The rationale for this is something attorneys love to fall back on, and that something is censure, a convenient scheme of publicly scolding someone without really doing anything official. Sure, when you hear that an attorney has been “publicly censured”, it might look and sound good on paper, but in fact it is anything but. The only thing that happens is that a public official, or if someone of prominence does receive a warning, it is like being a slapped on the wrist, and told not to be naughty again. Not exactly inductive to making someone alter his or her ways. However, it is not just this that is at fault here.

    The Old School Tie Network

    When any kind of law is broken, if it goes to court then it is normally attorneys who will work to see that the correct type of penalty is laid down out by the judges. However, if it is an attorney who is on trial (although this in itself can be hard to achieve, thanks to the censure procedure), then you can just about ensure that an old friend or colleague from law school will take their case.

    As if that is not bad enough, you will find that the attorney is probably a friend of the judge that is hearing the case, which does not provoke confidence that the case is going to be heard fairly or with impunity. It is this kind of “all for one, one for all” attitude that has seen public faith in attorneys lapse to an unprecedented low, which is a particular embarrassment for the good attorneys that do their job well and look out for the people that matter – their clients.

    If you have been a victim of malpractice by an attorney, there are ways that you can bring them to justice, and not just leave them to go the normal route of censure and favors from friends getting them off the hook.

    Taking The Law Into Your Hands

    One avenue that you can take to see the offending attorney brought to justice is by way of the state governing boards that are supposed to be responsible for attorneys being able to operate in a particular state or county. Unfortunately, this can be a tremendously costly and is usually a very long-drawn out process, which is not always successful, because the attorney can appeal it and generally the accuser is unaware and unable to speak out against them again. While the appeal is going on, they are allowed to continue to practice law…ergo the attorney gets away with it.

    Another way you might consider is to use another attorney, which may sound bizarre as you are bringing a case against another attorney. However, just like any job and vocation, there are some exceptional attorneys who would like nothing better than to successfully charge and prosecute someone who is blighting their business and good name in such a negative manner.

    If you are unsure of where you should start, there is usually a lawyer referral service in your town or you can go online and do a search with Google, Yahoo or MSN where you will find lists of firms in your city that would be more than willing to take this type of case on.

    Another option is to go to the local and national press. People hate to think of those intended to protect our rights as operating in an criminal manner, and they like it even less when it is an attorney who is using the law to further enrich their own way of life. For that reason, you should take all your facts and dates to the press, who would love to chase these lawbreaking attorneys down for you.

    No matter what you decide to do, please do not just sit and hope that the attorney will be found out without your help – that is why there are so many bad ones on the loose in the first place.

    Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Case

    A person charged with a crime, particularly for the first time, may be in a real quandary. How do they find the best criminal attorney for my case? Many people will have family members or friends who know lawyers but is that the best attorney for their case? The Internet is saturated with attorneys claiming to be experts but how reliable are their websites? This article briefly outlines some of the factors you want to consider in choosing a criminal defense attorney.

    1. Find an attorney with experience. See how long the he or she has practiced law. Ensure they specialize in criminal law. Examine their website and pay particular attention to the types of cases he or she has handled.
    2. Hire an attorney with jury trial experience. Asked the attorney how many jury trials he or she has conducted. An attorney with jury trial experience provide you with the greatest opportunity for an acquittal if you are not guilty or if the prosecution cannot prove their case; and, the maximum leverage in negotiating a plea in a case in which you are guilty. Judges and prosecutors know those who are not afraid to try a case; those that carry the most respect and are offered the best dispositions for their clients.
    3. Ensure that the attorney has tried your type of case. Some may only specialize in murder cases; that is all they do. They may not be the best for your drunk driving or your drug case. Be sure that the attorney you have selected has successfully defended a case similar to yours.
    4. Make sure the attorney you are hiring will be the attorney who handles your case. If you go to a large law firm you may speak to a partner who specializes in your type of case; however, that partner may pass your case to an associate with less experience. Be sure the partner will be representing you in court.
    5. Look for a professional website. A successful attorney will have a professional looking website. If the attorney is a professional he will carry himself that way in all respects, including the way he presents himself to you, in the courtroom and on his website.
    6. Asked another attorney. Attorneys in private practice know attorneys who specialized in all fields of law. If you have a family attorney that handles your real estate or probate matters that attorney can probably identify an excellent criminal attorney.
    7. You get what you pay for. It is not always wise to find the cheapest attorney. Attorneys with little or no experience will often charge far less money than those attorneys with experience. Some attorneys will take a case with no intention of considering a trial. They will review it with the sole intent of having you plead guilty; the attorney should explore all avenues, including motions to dismiss, motions to suppress and trial, before having you change your plea to guilty.