Advantage Denton

June 24, 2009

Travails of Lawyer Finding

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 6:49 pm

It is not easy to find a lawyer. Most people just fall into the lap of the first attorney they stumble over. Some people are lucky and happen upon a good lawyer for their needs right away. Others hand their wallet and their still-beating heart over to an attorney that they later wish they had not met. Some of the ways that people find lawyers are: 1.) asking around 2.) calling from the phone book 3.) looking on the Internet or 4.) just stopping at a building that has a sign saying “Lawyer”.

The best way to choose a lawyer is to have an expert evaluate the available information about the available lawyers and research the backgrounds of the lawyers who are the best fit for your needs. When you ask a friend or acquaintance about lawyers, they will only be able to tell you from their limited perspective. If they research on your behalf, they are not likely to do as good a job as a professional lawyer finder. If you research, it is hard to evaluate the data you do find and you might not find the crucial information that would show you who is or is not the right lawyer for your needs. If you just call from the phone book ads or show up at an office, you can be persuaded by a good talker (most lawyers are good talkers, you know) who would not be the choice of an expert who was researching for  the best lawyer on your behalf.

Please be careful out there and don’t just take things on face value. If you find a lot of information about a lawyer, it is more likely that you can get to know them a bit and have a better idea whether you like them as a person. That does not tell you whether their expertise is the type you need. It does not tell you about red flags out there that an experienced researcher could find and be warned away by. For a lawyer finder, it is great fun to be a detective and evaluator on your behalf. For you, it is scary and boring and frustrating. Don’t do it. Have us find the right lawyer for you.

June 19, 2009

Challenges in Finding Lawyers

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 6:07 pm

If you have ever tried to do it, perhaps you already know that it is not easy to find the right lawyer. It is very easy to find the wrong lawyer. If you are lucky enough to be friends with a local lawyer who knows which lawyers are best and they are kind enough to you to take the time to listen to why you think you need a lawyer, they might give you a name and phone number for the right lawyer for your needs. Since lawyers don’t get paid for doing this and it is not what they do for a living, the quality of the recommendation can vary quite a bit.

Sometimes we lawyers know another attorney who does practice in a certain area of law and we refer clients to them. We sometimes don’t really know how good they are in that area of law, just that they don’t have a really bad reputation (that we know of). Sometimes, the lawyer you ask for a referral could have a personal agenda of sending business to a friend or lawyer who shares the fees with them. Rarely would you get the right lawyer for you from this type of referral.

Some web sites, like lawyers.com and several others only list attorneys who have paid to be on the site. While it is nice to be able to review information about those attorneys and to get their contact information from these sites, you are not getting access to anywhere near all of the lawyers who are available in an area. The lawyers who pay the most are easiest to find and often they are not the right lawyer for you. Findlaw.com also gives you only a list of lawyers who paid to be listed and includes lawyers from a lot of places outside the location you asked for.

It is difficult to read between the lines to evaluate what an attorney is really like if you are not already familiar with the legal industry and standards for evaluating advertisements. When you are the person with a legal issue, it is hard to step outside yourself and the issue to determine how much experience and what precise areas of law are most useful to focus on. Trained lawyer finders (most of whom are lawyers themselves) know a lot about what types of lawyers there are and have resources to research which type of lawyer would be best for the situation you are dealing with.

Another site, avvo.com, has a more comprehensive list of attorneys (for the states that they cover – some states do not release their bar association data to avvo). While it is very useful on avvo to learn whether bar records disclose disciplinary problems and it is great to have a larger number of attorneys to learn about, it is still difficult to evaluate the information if you don’t have expertise on law and in evaluating the content.

When an Advantage Denton lawyer finder searches for your lawyer, we always evaluate the information from several sites to evaluate who is the right lawyer for you. It is our strict policy not to just send you to our personal buddy, even though we know lots of people in the legal industry. We provide you with links to several sources of information about the right lawyer we make your appointment with. You can usually get to know your lawyer a bit before the interview by taking a look at information on them from the Internet.

As a person who does some of her own plumbing and electrical work, I can tell you that it is very tempting to save a few bucks doing things myself. It is true that some simple things can be done by a smart amateur. Law is not simple. If a legal issue is simple, a good lawyer will tell you to do it yourself and give you advice about how. Finding a lawyer is not simple. Our lawyer finders perform this complex task for you and actually save you money by getting that first half hour of interview for you for free.

June 7, 2009

Integrity

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 6:10 pm

We all like to think that we know it when we see it. Integrity should show up like a shining beacon when you find someone trustworthy. Unfortunately, even the most discerning and careful of us can be tricked. Mostly the security precautions we take are to prevent the dumb and lazy from easily taking advantage of us. If a really clever scam artist sets a trap for any of us, we are likely to become a victim.

The smartest move is to not be a very convenient victim. If you are not easy to take advantage of , criminals generally will move on to someone less vigilant. Why work harder than you need to? One way to not be a convenient victim is to not have stuff worth taking. Another step is to be vigilant and have resources available to come to your aid any time you need them. In order to have these measures in place, you have to think ahead. If you can be isolated and deprived of help, it is a lot easier to take advantage of you.

Taking very good care of your health and keeping up your strength are fundamental measures. If you have enough sleep, you are more likely to be alert and to be capable of thinking clearly. Caution is always called for when you are ill or when you feel strong emotions about something. These are times when opportunistic criminals will be likely to strike.

One of the places that folks are understandably concerned about being taken advantage of is on the Internet. Some of the information you find there is perfectly legitimate and some is not. How do you tell? Just like in other parts of our lives, you always need to consider the source. In finding a lawyer, it is likely that most sites that say they are listing lawyers are actually listing real lawyers. Mostly the information on the site that says it comes from the lawyers really does come from them. Sometimes not. If you happen to be a trained lawyer finder or a lawyer yourself, you know how to evaluate the different sites and which ones would have a great deal to lose if they tried to steer you to a fake law firm.

Even when the data you are viewing is from real lawyers, that does not mean that they are all equally right for your needs. You need the lawyer who has the right amount of experience in the right field of law with the right ethical and practice area emphasis. You don’t need access to only the lawyer who spends the most money on advertising. Sometimes they pay the most to get your eye because they are most desperate for clients and don’t have repeat business due to poor business practices. A lawyer finder knows how to read “between the lines” and research the background of the attorney to evaluate whether this is the right lawyer for you.

Attorneys are not all equal. A few of them are real bad apples that you want to avoid at all costs. These predators take advantage of folks in distress and use your information against you. Some other wrong lawyers are not predators, they may just not be a very good fit for you or the best at the area of law you need help with. The attorney you use needs to be trustworthy and ready to help you define and reach your goals.

We are happy to be a resource to help our clients avoid the predators and the bad fit. We know how to find the right lawyer to get you the advice that will help you make the right decisions. If you have an opportunity (or something that looks like it might be an opportunity – perhaps too good to be true) or you have some challenge in your life or work that a good lawyer can advise you about, have us find the right lawyer for you.

June 3, 2009

Lawyers as Warriors

Filed under: Melissa Denton Posts — Melissa Denton @ 6:36 pm

It may seem a bit odd for a person who looks like me to talk about being a warrior, but that is what I am. We attorneys serve the function in our civilized society that samurai or knights served in earlier days. We use different tools and we are likely to work for many more “ordinary” citizens than these earlier warriors did, but we are powerful individuals who do the bidding (within our codes of conduct) of our masters/clients.

Like our predecessors, we have grave responsibilities to always prepare for battle and to act as a deterrent to avoid unnecessary battles. Our training is expensive, strenuous and ongoing.  We have a code of honor that we adhere to strongly and sometimes in contravention to our client’s stated wishes. When a lawyer goes rogue by breaking the law, it is big news and a big problem. When an accomplished and valued warrior violated their role, it was big news in the days of Arthur and Lancelot or the Forty-seven Ronin (samurai who broke rules).

It is a very big responsibility to have the power and authority of being an attorney. It is weird, though we grow used to it, to be a person that other folks treat differently due to our power. When people find out that I am an attorney, they react in much the same way as they do when they learn that I have earned a black belt in karate. A little bit of a double take and usually humor are the normal responses. A lot of the time, I don’t even know how people are reacting in their thoughts. When we meet another attorney or person who has a lot of power and self assurance, they have much less of a reaction.

Most lawyers live up to the standards society expects. We have a lot to lose, so we usually don’t take too many risks of throwing away reputation and license to practice. As happened with those other warriors of old, it is pretty easy to misunderstand, resent and derogate attorneys behind their backs. We move around in a world that is different from that of most people and it is important for us to not get “black robe disease”, which is a term that describes the tendency of judges to become removed from ordinary human interaction to such an extent that they think they are above other people. Judges (and lawyers) who keep their humility and humanity despite the rarefied atmosphere we live in are able to make much better decisions. But it isn’t easy.

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