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How to Find an Attorney You Can Trust

Choosing the right attorney is crucial for successfully navigating legal challenges, but knowing who to trust can be daunting. With so many different attorneys and lawyers, finding one you trust and respect can be challenging. But the more patient you are, the better!

8 Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Attorney

Research shows that only 16 percent of Americans rate lawyers’ honesty and ethical standards as “high.” To put it another way, 84 percent of Americans – or more than 4 out of 5 – don’t fully trust attorneys. 

While it would be easy to say this is a “lawyer” problem – it’s really a “people” problem. If you look at the data in detail, you’ll see that lawyers actually beat out business executives, stockbrokers, insurance salespeople, and politicians.

If you’re in need of a lawyer, you have a right to scrutinize and do your due diligence. While you might not trust every lawyer, there are plenty of attorneys out there who can and should be trusted – it’s simply a matter of finding them.

Here are a few tips to help you find a trustworthy attorney who makes you comfortable:

  • Start with Their Credentials

Credentials are the bedrock of professional trust. Before you dive deeper into your search, ensure that any attorney you’re seriously considering is properly licensed to practice law in your state. You can verify this through your state's bar association website, which typically offers an online directory and information about any disciplinary actions taken against lawyers.

  • Check Their Specialization

Being a lawyer isn’t like being a landscaper. Just because you have a law degree and passed the Bar Exam doesn’t mean you can practice every type of law. There are hundreds of different specialties, and most attorneys specialize in specific areas. 

Depending on your legal issue, whether it's family law, criminal defense, personal injury, or estate planning, you'll want to find an attorney who has expertise in that particular area. An attorney’s specialization can often be found on their professional website, their profiles on legal review sites, or directly through a consultation.

  • Examine Their Track Record

An attorney’s past performance can be a good indicator of their capability and reliability. Look into their track record of handling cases similar to yours. Some key questions to ask might include:

  • How many cases like mine have you handled?
  • What were the outcomes of these cases?
  • Can you provide any case studies or examples (without breaching confidentiality)?

While no attorney can guarantee specific results, their history can give you insights into their expertise and effectiveness in your type of legal issue.

  • Evaluate Billing Practices

Understanding how you will be charged is very important – and you shouldn’t be shy about asking. Trustworthy attorneys are transparent about their billing practices and will explain how they calculate fees upfront. 

Common billing methods include hourly rates, flat fees, and contingency fees (where the lawyer gets paid only if you win your case). Make sure you understand what you are being charged for and that the attorney provides a written agreement detailing their fees.

  • Assess Their Communication Style

Effective communication is key in any relationship, especially the attorney-client relationship. During your initial consultations, pay attention to whether the attorney listens to you attentively, explains legal concepts in a digestible way, and responds to your questions with thoughtful answers. If an attorney isn’t listening to you now, don’t expect them to be a good listener once you’ve hired them.

  • Request Client Testimonials and References

What better way to gauge an attorney’s trustworthiness and professionalism than hearing from past clients? You can learn a lot about a lawyer from the experiences of former clients.

Ask for testimonials or references. If possible, reach out to these references to discuss their experiences. Online reviews and ratings on legal directories like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and even Google can also provide additional insights.

  • Look for a Personal Connection

Legal issues can be stressful and, sometimes, deeply personal. Therefore, you need to feel comfortable with your attorney. Trust your instincts about the personal connection you feel. 

  • Does the attorney show genuine concern for your situation? 
  • Do they seem like someone you can confide in and trust with sensitive information?
  • Are they someone you’ll be comfortable spending time with?

Your attorney doesn’t need to be your best friend, but they should be someone who you connect with and feel relaxed around. This will make the entire experience much better.

  • Ask About Their Network

A trustworthy attorney is going to have a strong network of professional contacts including other attorneys in different specializations, as well as experts and consultants who can be called upon when necessary. You might not need any of these folks, but if you do it’s important to have a lawyer who can pick up the phone and connect with the right expert.

Take Your Time

Above all else, be patient and take your time. Rushing the decision to hire a lawyer can lead to a world of hurt later on. Use all the resources at your disposal, gather as much information as possible, and make a well-informed decision.

Almost all attorneys offer a free initial consultation. It’s highly encouraged that you use this opportunity to interview them and get a feel for the attorney’s personality and authenticity. If necessary, interview three or four different lawyers until you find the right one.