There was a time when lawyers were banned by state bar associations from any form of advertising. Back then, the thinking was that advertising would corrupt the integrity of the legal profession. Between potentially punitive insurance claims, lawyers looking to score big off those claims, and a general ignorance of civil litigation among the public, bar associations thought it better to not allow advertising.
That changed in 1977 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of an Arizona law firm that claimed advertising bans violated both the Sherman Antitrust Act and the constitutional right to free speech. The court opened a floodgate of advertising that introduced America to siren chasing personal injury lawyers.
Advertising within the legal profession continues today. However, it is not wise to settle on a lawyer based on his or her ads. Whether it’s personal injury, DUI, divorce, or any other form of litigation, the quality of a lawyer is not determined by how well his or her marketing firm capitalizes on its message.
Almost all court cases start at the local level. As such, one of the first things people should look for in their lawyers is local experience. For example, take a personal injury case involving a car accident. A nationally known insurance company is likely to retain the same attorneys whether or not they have any knowledge of the area where the accident occurred.
This gives a local attorney a decided advantage, explains the Majors Firm, a personal injury and insurance defense firm in the Dallas suburb of Rockwell. A local attorney will be familiar with traffic patterns, road conditions, weather, and a whole host of other factors that might come into play. Having an attorney with local experience could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Attorneys tend to work as hard as they can to avoid going to trial. This isn’t because they don’t like litigation, it’s because going to trial increases the possibility of losing out entirely. Lawyers would rather reach a settlement than go to court. Having said that, the person in need of legal representation should look for an attorney with trial experience. If the case does go to court, it is better to have an experienced trial lawyer than one who has never stepped inside a courtroom.
Next, the Majors Firm also suggests looking for an attorney who specializes in the particular area of law being addressed. A Rockwell resident involved in a car accident could contact the Majors Firm, as personal injury is one of their specialties. On the other hand, hiring an attorney with limited personal injury experience jeopardizes the client’s chances of winning.
Last but not least are legal fees. Attorneys charge based on the kind of case being handled. Personal injury attorneys often charge a percentage of the eventual settlement. A divorce lawyer will almost always charge a flat fee. The point is to look around to find the most competitive rates. You wouldn’t want to hire an attorney based solely on the fees charged, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least compare rates between attorneys.
Anybody can make a commercial telling you how wonderful their products or services are. That may be fine when you’re ordering pizza, but it doesn’t work for legal representation. If you ever find yourself in need of an attorney, do not find one by comparing ads. Use the criteria listed in this article as your starting point. Then add to it any other factors you believe are important.