There are numerous ways to find an attorney today. You can search the internet or ask people you know for recommendations of an attorney they have used or know about.
The next question is, how do you evaluate whether the attorney really knows what they’re doing?
Here are two tips for finding an attorney that is best qualified to handle your legal matter.
Are they Board Certified the Texas Board of Legal Specialization? In 1978, the State Bar of Texas created a specialization program for attorneys that have, “…substantial, relevant experience in a select field of law as well as demonstrated, and tested, special competence in that area of law.” To become Board Certified in a particular practice area, attorneys must meet stringent criteria, including:
a. Extensive experience through years of practice and in the types of cases that they handle.
b. Rigorous testing on their expertise and knowledge in that area of practice by the State Board of Legal Specialization examiners. In each area, there are different criteria on the test, and there are different criteria to actually qualify to take the test.
c. Board Certification is not a one-time thing. Lawyers who are board certified must periodically provide updated references from their peers in that field and have annual continuing legal education course work to stay abreast of current trends in the law.
d. The people who have passed the board certification test have demonstrated a level of expertise and experience limited to a small percentage of the lawyers in Texas. In fact, of the 100,000 attorneys in Texas, only 7300 have achieved the status of Board Certification.
Referrals: The other way of picking an attorney is the referral method.
a. One of the best ways to find an attorney is by a recommendation from another attorney. Many people have previously had attorneys in a different field do work for them, and they can call that attorney for a referral. Attorneys have the best knowledge of attorneys whose skills are best suited for a case (similar to how doctors refer their patients to specialists that they know are the most appropriate fit for any given situation).
b. Personal referrals from former clients are also a good option; if your friend or neighbor had a good experience with an attorney, that is an indication of the kind of experience you can expect from working with that attorney.
Twenty years ago, the yellow pages were seen as the way to find an attorney. However, the people on the first page in the yellow pages got there by spending the most money on an ad. Their ad and its placement in the yellow pages had nothing to do with whether they were competent at practicing law or not. The same thing holds true today for websites: nearly all attorneys have websites, but the flashiest website does not necessarily mean that they have the best expertise.
Simply put, “Word of Mouth is Still the Best Way to Find a Lawyer.” The two best ways to find an attorney are still basically word of mouth–through the referral method and looking for attorneys that are Board Certified Specialists in their practice area. Using these two methods will help you find a lawyer who is good at what they do and a good match for your legal need.
David S. Bouschor, II, is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has been practicing law in Denton, Texas for over 25 years.