Updated: Nov 30, 2020
California State Bar Attorney Search Tools
Lawyers give strategic guidance and apply specialized technical abilities to legal issues. Ideally, you will be able to find a California lawyer who is willing to act as your legal "coach" to assist you to inform yourself as much as possible and only if necessary to take over as your legal counsel.
You can contact a California Bar Certified lawyer referral service and request an unbiased and impartial lawyer recommendation. Lawyer referrals and case reviews are available 24-hours a day FREE of charge. If you prefer to conduct your own California attorney search, this article will provide you with some tips and recommendations.
How to find a good lawyer in California
You've been carefully thinking about it, and you've decided you need to contact a lawyer. The big problem is, how can you find a reliable, hones California lawyer? When selecting a lawyer, this article will give you some tips about what to look for and will take you through some questions to ask a lawyer when you first meet. You can hire a lawyer who has the experience and expertise to help you with your problem if you do your homework.
It might not be easy to locate a good California lawyer who can deal with your specific problem effectively. By merely browsing online or reading an advertisement, don't expect to find a decent lawyer. These sources do not provide enough details to help you make a rational decision. The same way someone has one or two doctors that they see at least annually, most people don't have a "regular" lawyer. And how do you find an attorney that is right for you? Where are you going to turn for recommendations?
What should I look for when searching for an attorney?
A good California lawyer will help you solve your problems, so the first qualification is that you have to feel secure enough to tell him or her all the facts required to solve your problem honestly and absolutely. No one you talk to and nothing you find online can guarantee that the best for you will be a specific lawyer; you have to judge that for yourself.
When choosing a lawyer, are there any practical considerations to bear in mind?
Yes, the area of expertise of the lawyer and previous experience are significant. Many states have specialization programs in certain types of law that certify California lawyers as specialists. Some legal specialties, such as the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, and the National Elder Law Foundation, have also created their certification programs.
You might also like to inquire about the sort of cases normally handled by your lawyer. What is the breakdown of that attorney's practice (e.g., 50 employment law cases, 25 percent personal injury cases, and 25 percent divorce cases)? The comfort of the lawyer's office location, fees paid, and the length of time a case can take are other factors.
Where do I start searching for an attorney?
There are many ways to locate a reliable California lawyer. A recommendation from a trusted friend, parent, or business partner is among the highest. However, be mindful that each legal case is different and that you or your legal issue does not suit a lawyer who is right for anyone else.
A safer way is to talk to people in your culture who have faced the same issue you face—speak to a women's organization, for instance, if you have a sexual assault allegation. Ask them about their experience with the lawyers they selected. If you speak to half a dozen individuals who have had a similar legal problem, you're likely to come away with a few strong leads.
But don't just make a decision on a California lawyer on the basis of a recommendation from anyone else. People will have different reactions to the style and attitude of a lawyer; don't make a final decision about hiring a great California lawyer until you have met the lawyer, spoken about your case, and determined that you feel comfortable working with him or her.
It can also be difficult to find a lawyer with the experience you need from a personal referral (for instance, if your friend had a very good divorce lawyer, but you need business advice, the referral may not do you much good).
Are ads online a good place to check for a lawyer?
In some ways, yes, advertisements are useful. Nevertheless, always be sure to believe everything you read and hear, and nowhere is this more valid than commercials. In addition to direct mail, newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television, and internet advertising will familiarize you with the names of lawyers that might be suitable for your legal needs.
Some ads will also assist you in determining the area of expertise of a California lawyer. For handling a particular type of "simple case, other ads will quote a fee or price range. Keep in mind that most cases are complex and there isn't an straight forward solution in some cases. When a lawyer quotes a fee, make sure that you know exactly what services and costs are and are not included in the fee.
Based on your place and the type of legal case, you have several lawyer directories that provide a way to communicate with local lawyers. You answer a few questions about your case and provide your contact details; then, you are contacted directly by the correct type of California lawyer.
Directories offer a specific list of lawyers that list each lawyer with a detailed profile. The profiles inform you about the background, qualifications, and fees of the lawyer, and perhaps most notably, the general philosophy of practicing the law.
The problem with most lawyer directories is that, in reality, they are advertising platforms. As such, as long as lawyers pay a listing fee, they can appear on the directory regardless of their license status, experience or reviews.
Referrals from Industry
Businesses that offer services to key players you are involved in in the legal sector might also be able to help you find California lawyers that you might consider. For starters, talk to your banker, accountant, insurance agent, and real estate broker if you're interested in small business law. These individuals come into close contact with attorneys who represent business customers and are willing to make educated decisions.
Where can I find low-cost legal aid?
Several legal aid programs provide people in need of affordable or free legal services. Look under subjects such as "legal clinics," "legal aid," or "legal advice," or check online. Many legal aid services, mostly based on where you live, your family's size, and your salary, have special eligibility requirements. Some legal aid departments have their staff attorneys, and others work with volunteer attorneys. Notice that in civil legal cases, people do not have a right to a free lawyer.
You can qualify for free representation from a public defender if you are accused of a crime and can not afford a lawyer. To find a public defender's office, search your county's local listings online or in a telephone directory. If you are charged with a felony, the U.S. The Constitution grants you the right to have a court-appointed lawyer in any case where you might be jailed for a term of six months or more. For lesser crimes, state constitutions can guarantee your right to a lawyer. Either the judge hearing the case will select a public defender to represent you free of charge if you can not afford a lawyer.
Is there any other form of government aid available besides court-appointed defenders?
Both federal and state governments and agencies also have staff attorneys who may, without charge, support the general public in some cases. If you have particular issues such as environmental protection problems or discrimination in jobs or housing, consider contacting the appropriate federal agency.
The Attorney General of your State can also, without charge, provide advice to the public on state laws. For instance, some states, as a feature of the Attorney General's office, retain consumer protection departments. Similarly, there are also government attorneys in their law offices, counties, cities, and townships who can advise the public on municipal laws.
Public interest groups
Several non-profit public interest groups may be able to help you find a California lawyer, such as those that concentrate on civil rights or housing discrimination.
Prepaid legal services plans.
Through some employers, labor unions, and other organizations, certain plans are available. Generally, if you have such a contract, you are entitled at a discounted rate to a certain amount of the time and resources of a lawyer.
Mediation services offer an option to have to employ an attorney or go to court for the settlement of civil conflicts. A directory of local mediation services is provided by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
My new employer provides a prepaid legal services package. What can I expect?
When purchased in bulk, legal services, like many other items, are also less costly. The "legal insurance" policies have been developed by some employers, labor and credit unions, and other organizations. Such plans differ. Many pay much, if not all, of the expense of legal consultations, document preparation, and court representation in regular legal matters. Some services cover only advice and a lawyer's consultation.
Ensure you are comfortable with the coverage before entering a legal plan and know if you will be expected to make out-of-pocket payments. Such group policies follow the same trend as medical insurance plans for associations or cooperatives. Employers set up a fund to cover the workers' legal costs, with often a small co-payment being contributed by the employee. In recent years, legal group proposals have become much more common. Some discount department stores and credit card businesses are also giving their clients such plans.
California Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Services
A further source of information is lawyer referral services. However, there is a broad difference in the standard of referral services for attorneys, as they must be accredited by the state bar association.
Some lawyer referral services screen California lawyers carefully and list only those lawyers with specialized expertise and a certain amount of previous experience, while other services list any lawyer in good standing with the state bar, which retains liability insurance. Ask what their credentials are for including an attorney and how carefully lawyers are screened before you choose a lawyer referral service.
To assess a case, these services typically recommend a California lawyer in the field of expertise related to your case. Groups with specific features, such as the elderly, refugees, domestic abuse victims, or people with disabilities, are served by various programs.
Bar organizations allow recommendations according to particular law areas in most communities, helping you find a lawyer with the right expertise and focus in practice. Many referral systems may have competency standards for California lawyers who wish to provide referrals in a specific field of law.