How do you choose a good lawyer?

"Congratulations!” the letter begins, telling me that I have been selected as one of the Top 100 Litigation lawyers in Washington and am therefore eligible for membership in a prestigious-sounding acronym. For just a small membership fee I will receive a hardwood plaque that I can hang in my office with all the other ones I’m eligible to collect just because I’m a lawyer.

That’s really the only reason I’m getting this letter, after all. But it sounds so exclusive and discriminating! It promises that only lawyers who have stellar legal credentials (i.e., haven’t been subject to any bar disciplinary proceedings) and have a proven commitment to community engagement, leadership and so on, are getting this invitation. Sounds great, but what does all this mean?

Quite honestly, nothing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these kinds of letters out there, and lawyering is not the only profession that gets hit with them. These organizations are simply fee-based membership organizations that lend an air of authority to anyone who hangs the plaque on their wall to impressionable clients going through one of the toughest, most anxiety-provoking times of their lives.

So how do you know if you’re hiring the right lawyer for your personal injury claim? There are a couple other things to look at. As I say in this video, if you’ve got a million dollar claim, then you’ll want to hire a lawyer who has had success in getting million dollar claims paid. (Even if you don’t realistically have a claim worth millions, wouldn’t you still want a lawyer who is adept at getting stellar results?) If you want to show insurance companies you’re serious about getting a fair settlement then you’ll want a lawyer who has a proven track record of taking a case all the way to court and winning. Insurance companies pay attention to that; they know that simply going to court is going to cost them more money in the long run. Very few cases go all the way to a jury trial, since most insurance companies want to avoid that risk, but if they don't negotiate satisfactorily, make sure you’ve got a lawyer who is comfortable in front a jury. I have to say, past results don’t guarantee future outcome - in insurance claims as well as so many things in life - but the point is you want someone who can get results.

True, I’ve got some fancy buttons on my site – AVVO rating (10.0) and Super Lawyers. If you want to know more about how they evaluate who gets these ratings, you can read about it here and here. I’m a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum because I’ve won settlements that were that high, and you don’t earn that designation if you don’t. Actually, fewer than 1% of US lawyers are members. You can learn more about what previous clients have said about working with me and my firm, and kudos from other lawyers as well as other accolades I’ve earned.  It’s my hope that in sharing this with you, dear readers, I’m not tooting my own horn as much as assuring you that I can be a trustworthy, tough and empathetic advocate for those who are up against big insurance companies who don’t want to pay. 

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