Hiring a Lawyer from the Internet; Questions to Ask

Before looking for an accident attorney on the internet, you should consider the following:

Can I get a referral of lawyer from a trusted relative or friend? 

We always recommend this route especially if the relative or friend has had a similar case and has been happy with the results.  In a sense, this attorney has been “pre-screened” or “pre-qualified” by your referrer.

If you cannot obtain a recommendation, then we suggest that you do some research and ask some questions before hiring an attorney found through the internet.  Although most of the best attorneys have a web presence, the best attorneys do not always turn-up on page 1 of Google.  Often, a law firm’s appearance on page 1 is solely the result of a concerted advertising and marketing effort, such as Google ad words (advertising) and Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, an attorney’s appearance on the first page of Google or Yahoo does not assure excellence.

Here are some questions to ask: 

  • Does the attorney have credentials which set him apart from other attorneys?  For example:
  • Does the lawyer belong to a group which rates lawyers?   I am listed in New York Super Lawyers which lists the best lawyers in our region.  The Super Lawyers organization lists lawyers across the country.  I am also rated as Preeminent which is the highest rating given by Martindale-Hubbell, the leading directory of law firms in the nation.  I am also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum which is limited to attorneys who have obtained verdicts and settlements in excess of $1,000,000.

  • Is the attorney a leader in his speciality?  For example, I am a  member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and I am an active lecturer and writer in its Continuing Legal Education Programs.
  • Has the attorney handled similar cases with some degree of success?  
  • Has the attorney and his associate tried cases?  Many cases must be pushed to the courthouse door before there is a reasonable settlement. 
  • Does the attorney have the resources to try my case?  It can take anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to try a case.  Does the attorney have the resources to finance my case?  Or will he settle short?
  • How will the attorney respond to my questions and concerns during the life of my case?  Does the attorney have adequate staff, such as associate attorneys and paralegals, who can answer questions as well as move along the case.
  • What is the lawyer’s operation like?  Check the attorney’s office.  Although it may not be luxurious, there should be a certain level of attractiveness, comfort, and order.  If the attorney is unwilling to replace a ripped chair, will he spend the necessary resources on your case?  If the office is a mess or seems disorganized, then your case will be handled in this manner.
  • Are the attorney and his staff courteous and respectful?  You may be “living” with the attorney and his staff for a long time.  If they are not courteous and respectful at the beginning, then they will only get worse as time goes on. 

If you have been injured in an accident, please feel free to call us at 800-581-1434 or write to letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/14/10, www.seitelman.com.


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