Step 1: Know What You Need,
Step 2: Search on Independent, Unbiased Attorney Review Sites,
Step 3: Consult Rankings and Reviews, and
Step 4: Schedule a Consultation
Why is your lawyer so important? Because the legal profession is a reputational field. By that, we mean a lawyer’s reputation is a priceless commodity. If you hire a lawyer with a reputation for always accepting a quick settlement, you will not get maximum compensation from the insurance company. If your lawyer has never taken a personal injury or wrongful death case to trial, a jury figure that out very quickly and you may not get awarded any financial restitution.
Your lawyer matters, so here are four steps you should follow when seeking out the best Virginia personal injury lawyer for your case:
Step 1: Know What You Need
Legal matters vary greatly. A disputed insurance claim following a car accident exists in a world separate from a bankruptcy filing, and both bear little resemblance to a criminal case. Finding the very best personal injury attorney, then, requires first recognizing that you need a lawyer who works day in and day out on personal injury cases. You do not want a lawyer who is trying to handle a divorce matter on Monday, a tax matter on Tuesday, and your personal injury claim on Wednesday. You want an attorney who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death law.
Step 2: Search on Independent, Unbiased Attorney Review Sites
If you visit a lawyer’s web site, you will likely see many positive remarks and flashy awards. But can you really trust those remarks? To verify that the lawyer you are hiring is top-notch, conduct a search online on independent, unbiased attorney review sites such as:
• U.S. News & World Report
Your state’s bar association also operates a referral system. For Virginia, that website is here.
Step 3: Consult Rankings and Reviews
Several of the results you turn up at the lawyer search sites will include information on how the firms and individual practitioners rate in the eyes of clients and fellow lawyers. This information can prove invaluable. Websites that go further into reputational data, and are unbiased, include the following:
• Super Lawyers
As an additional check, you can visit you state’s law bar website to check if a particular attorney has been disciplined for misconduct or unethical practices. The state bar operates separately from the bar association; Virginia’s bar can be found online here.
Step 4: Schedule a Consultation
Never forget that you are hiring the lawyer. Treat your initial consultation like an interview where you are the boss. Ask many questions about how the lawyer has handled previous cases similar to yours, what legal strategies are available to you, how long the case might take to reach a resolution, and what you might expect that outcome to be.
This first conversion should be free and held at your convenience. Do not hesitate to ask the lawyer to visit you at home or at the hospital. Avoid any firm that insist on charging you to simply meet with an attorney.
Throughout the initial consult, reflect on how comfortable you are sharing information with the lawyer. Work to get a sense of his or her personal interest and empathy. Also, make sure the lawyer can explain things in terms you understand. You should never depend on an attorney you simply do not like, or cannot communicate with.
Richard N. Shapiro is a partner at Shapiro, Appleton & Duffan in Virginia Beach, Va. He is certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a prolific inventor and product designer, and has litigated wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad and medical negligence claims throughout the Eastern United States.
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Company Name: Shapiro, Appleton and Duffan
Contact Person: Richard
Address:1294 Diamond Springs Rd.
City: Virginia Beach
Country: United States