Choosing a lawyer simply because he or she is understanding may lead to later dissatisfaction. While the Yellow Pages or a television advertisement may be a good place to start, keep in mind that such sources are merely that and only a starting place.
Lawyers should be selected for their expertise and experience in specific categories of cases. The "right lawyer" is the person who has substantial experience handling a case very similar to yours, who can and will take action at once. She or he does not have to "look into it," "think about it and call you back" or "check the most recent court decisions." The "right lawyer" knows what to do immediately, acts effectively and with little wasted effort or wasted expenditures of your money.
Your search for the "right lawyer" should be expected to take several days. Although it is a challenging process, this commitment will yield important rewards. Begin as soon as possible because there may be statutes of limitations or other deadlines that may be critical. In some cases you have only a limited window of opportunity to take legal action.
Think carefully about the legal services you require. You may need on-going, regular legal advice from someone who has experience advising individuals or businesses in your line of work. Other attorneys have particular experience in drafting contracts or wills, representing estates or working through land development or zoning-related issues. Many lawyers practice law for a lifetime and never set foot in a courtroom because their work is primarily consultative and oriented toward planning. Other attorneys focus on providing remedies that require litigation, and are experienced in appearing before juries and trying complex civil and criminal cases. The bottom line is that there are many, many lawyers. You just need one. The "right" one.
Finding Legal Specialists
If you were forced to bet your home on the outcome of an athletic event between two players in boxing, tennis or golf, you would do a substantial amount of homework. You would do a literature search, call coaches, talk with players, call Las Vegas to learn what the professionals had to say, and find videotape on film of previous matches. The same approach applies when it comes to finding the "right lawyer."
Lawyers find the "right lawyer" by networking with the members of their profession who have experience in related areas. After making multiple calls they develop a "short list" of attorneys with special expertise. There are many ways that you can achieve the same goal.
Sarasota Florida has many lawyers who are experts in specific areas of the law. Finding a specialist requires more than asking friends and relatives for their recommendations. Unless they have extensive experience with the legal community, their advice has to be considered in the context of their background in retaining lawyers. To rely merely upon advice from friends and relatives may greatly limit your prospects unless they are involved in a line of work that is related to your problem. Remember, the key is networking. Call the "brilliant trial lawyer" and ask him or her who they would hire if they were sued for divorce.
The best place to start is your county law library. Here you will find a number of directories and source books which will help you develop your "short list." But since everyone starts with the Yellow Pages, understand what you can learn there. The Yellow Pages are paid advertising. The bigger the ad, the larger the volume of common cases handled by that lawyer. This may be what you need for a common or garden variety case, but no major corporation picks its lawyers out of the Yellow Pages. Ignore the hype and look for facts confirming experience you can call upon.
The Sarasota County law library and the main library contain a national listing of attorneys published by Martindale-Hubbell, one of the best all-around sources of information. The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory lists lawyers in practice by city and state. You'll be able to learn about attorneys' particular backgrounds, areas of practice, bar activities, honors, articles, and other aspects of their practices. But, more importantly, Martindale-Hubbell rates lawyers for their legal skills, ethics, and professionalism. While the rating system is not perfect, Martindale-Hubbell conducts confidential surveys of local judges and lawyers. Few very good lawyers are unrated.
Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service - Serving the Sarasota Area - (800) 342-8011
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