How to find a lawyer

If you find yourself in a jam and need a lawyer, how do you find one? One of the best way to find one is the same one that you’d use to find a family doctor, mechanic, or insurance agent — ask people you know if they can recommend one.

The problem with this approach is that, while most people have a mechanic and a doctor, not all of them have a lawyer.

It’s always worthwhile contact your local or state bar association. Most bar associations have a referral program that will give you the names of two or three lawyers who have experience with your legal problem.

Do some web searches — one of the most basic is your city or zip code and the type of lawyer you need. If you’re not sure what type of lawyer you need, here’s where the bar referral program can come in handy — most of them will help you identify what your legal problem is and the type of lawyer you probably want.

Remember, an attorney’s webpage is advertising, it’s supposed to make the lawyer look good. A good site should still give you a sense of the lawyer’s personality.

No matter how you get the referrals, make sure that the attorney doesn’t have any disciplinary action against them. You should be able to look up the lawyer on the state bar association’s website or the state Supreme Court’s website.

If the attorney is in “good standing,” then he or she is up-to-date on their law license fees, has complied with the required Continuing Legal Education requirements, and is not currently disbarred or suspended from practicing law.

The American Bar Association has a great webpage, findlegalhelp.org that gives you one-stop access to all the information I discussed above — local bar association referral services, free and low-cost legal aid, and information on how to check on attorney licensing. Simply chose your state from the main page.

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