How do you find a lawyer these days in Illinois? We at Parker & Parker will be the first to admit it’s hard, for example, to find qualified and recommended doctors, house contractors, and tax pros. You want the job done well, fairly, and in a friendly manner. Where do you – where do we go – to find the right people in our community?
It’s confusing, no matter who you’re looking for. Answers are everywhere, but are they the right ones?
In the legal world, there’s an ever-increasing number of sites, certifications, awards, and claims by attorneys about who they are, what they do, and how well they do it. Where to turn?
Even if you’re looking at our site, you’ll see that we are proudly recognized by a number of organizations, honors, memberships, and online ranking systems. It’s in our letterhead and on this website, including this banner on the letters we send:
It’s a lot to go through, and you probably don’t even find all of the different places out there to look. So here’s where we go, and what we think they mean. Put another way, if we were looking for an attorney, this is a guide we’d follow in getting through information overload.
Super Lawyers and Leading Lawyers are respected in Illinois. Why? Other lawyers and even judges have recommended you. They’ve seen your work product, they’ve seen you in action in court, and and they’ve witnessed your legal abilities by interacting with you: you’re the cream of the crop. By definition, these awards automatically rank youin the top 5% or better. They’re definitely a source of pride for attorneys, and if an attorney earns any of these distinctions, then you can bet they’re making it known, and rightfully so.
Memberships and organizations, such as the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, have strict membership requirements that scrutinize experience, numbers and types of cases, reputation, ethics, and recommendations from judges, members of the bar, and personal references. There are also local and state bar committees and positions; attorneys actively involved mean they know the community, help develop new laws, and generally recognize the importance of civic involvement and maintaining close ties to the community.
Online Lawyer Locator Sites
Online sites, which are relatively new, like Avvo.com or Findlaw, combine professional memberships, awards, publications, peer recommendations, and client recommendations. They spit out a rating based on all of these factors, plus years of experience and ethical records with the disciplinary commission (ARDC). They generally use information from the other sites above, but can still be helpful by showing feedback (beyond just the ranking) of past clients and other lawyers.
Social Media and General Information Sites
The digital world of social media, search engines, and directories are helpful but not automatically built to provide you with all the information you might need to pick an attorney. Google reviews are a great place to find reports of client experience. For better or worse, they are often the first and most prominent results displayed in response to Google searches. Also, many people don’t realize feedback can be left for attorneys – they’re more often used for restaurants, hotels, and other industries. Superpages, Lawyers.com, and other directories would fall into this category too.
Many of these sites, like Avvo or even Google search results, will prioritize paying advertisers above everyone else in the area. It doesn’t mean any more or less, necessarily, about their true qualifications.
Of course, there are personal pages, such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. And there’s always a firm’s own website, like this one, that can give you information straight from the horse’s mouth, which you can check against all the other sites above.
A firm website will show you what practice areas are important, they should have you a sense of what the law firm is like, and they often are the best source of biographical information. If an attorney doesn’t even have a website, then it’s fair to draw your own conclusions about what that might mean.
With all the places you can look to research picking your lawyer, hopefully this article helps tell you where to start. The information is out there, in different ways and different places. And above all, if you have questions, don’t forget that you can always just ask us. We’re here to help. Most of all, that’s what a good attorney does.