Using The California State Bar To Search For Attorneys
Can The California State Bar Help me Find a Lawyer?
The State Bar of California is in charge of the admission of lawyers in California into practice, it also investigates on average 16,000 complaints of professional misconduct every year, and takes appropriate disciplinary action.
California was one of the first states to consolidate its bar association and make it mandatory, it is also the only state bar that operates its own State Bar Court for disciplinary cases.
The California State Bar has over 189,000 active members making it the largest state bar association in the United States. Since the California State Bar is a regulatory body, it cannot recommend California lawyers to the public.
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What's a Certified Lawyer Referral Service?
A lawyer referral service is a network of licensed lawyers who are in good standing with the California State Bar. A potential client who contacts a certified lawyer referral service is referred to a lawyer who specializes in the area of law that is most appropriate for their problem.
Some lawyer referral services in California charge a fee for providing a referral, while others are free of charge like 1000Attorneys.com. Prospective clients are connected to lawyers who have agreed to provide a free initial consultation.
The California State Bar does not have a centralized lawyer referral service, they do have a list on their website of county bar associations that offer referral services and independent lawyer referral services. You can either call into the lawyer referral service and talk to someone who can refer you to a local attorney, or you can request a lawyer referral online.
The California State Bar recommends that you contact the referral service for the county where you require legal services, they will provide you with a list of certified lawyer referral services in each county.
You won't be able to obtain a list of lawyers from any lawyer referral service so it's always a good idea to contact a few lawyer referral services to obtain a second opinion on your case.
Some local associations, like the Los Angeles Bar Association for example, also provide lawyer referrals for most areas of law.
Is Using Lawyer Directories A Good Idea?
Most popular lawyer directories like AVVO, Super Lawyers, Finlaw.com and Nolo.com are not certified by the California State Bar to operate as lawyer referral services.
Lawyer directories are mostly marketing platforms where lawyers can showcase their legal services regardless of their background, standing status with the California Bar or experience.
Lawyer directories can be helpful to cross-reference and compare lawyers in your area while conducting a lawyer search. They can also be a good tool to filter out lawyers outside the area of expertise and experience, however, conducting due diligence is strongly advised before entering into a contractual agreement.
How Do I Prepare For a Legal Consultation?
When you have your initial consultation with a lawyer, you want to be well prepared so that you can make the most out of your first meeting. Most lawyers will appreciate someone who presents them with all the evidence to support their claim.
In order to give you a very good idea of how to proceed with your claim, they will need to have a clear picture of the circumstances surrounding your case. Before your initial interview, it's always recommended to prepare a list of questions beforehand, so that you can walk away with all your questions answered.
Apart from discussing the details of your case, make sure you talk about all the costs associated with legal fees. If possible, request your lawyer to break down all fees in writing so you don't have any surprises as you move forward.
What Should I Know about Hiring a Lawyer in California?
The main benefit of working with a certified lawyer referral service is that they conduct a thorough background check on each attorney in their network.
When you start working with a lawyer, document everything and keep all your paperwork organized. Certified lawyer referral services monitor the attorney's performance while your case is open.
You also want to keep the lawyer referral service on the loop as your case progresses and when it settles. They use this information as part of the monitoring process to make sure the attorney complies with quality standards.