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How Do You Choose A Good Lawyer?

Ask a lawyer you trust.

There are a lot of ways to find a lawyer.

Martindale Hubbell has a website – – where you can look up attorneys geographically and by specialty. The company rates each lawyer on a scale of 1 to 5, and assigns a letter rating as well: “AV” (the highest rating available), “BV” (“strong legal ability”), or not at all. (I am rated AV, with a number rating of 5).

Martindale conducts surveys of lawyers in every town or city to determine the ratings, and for this reason the ratings have some validity.

AVVO runs a website which lists attorneys geographically and by specialty, and assigns them ratings by a complex secret formula that I personally feel is of questionable value. (No sour grapes here – I am a “94 – Superb” under the AVVO formula.)

“Best Guide to Insurance Attorneys” is published every year by the A.M. Best Company (“Best Guide” – get it?), and lists attorneys who meet certain criteria. (I am listed in the guide.)

Over the last 10 years, a number of local newspapers and magazines have started publishing annual “best lawyers” or “superstar lawyers” guides. Some of these are also the product of surveys of attorneys.

I am skeptical of virtually all these surveys.

Why? All ratings are susceptible to manipulation – for instance a large firm may conduct a “campaign” among the firm’s own attorneys, or other friends, to elevate one of its members from a BV to an AV.

Or a lawyer may attempt to raise his own rating by a particular service through a series of “I’ll rate you if you rate me” trades.

I don’t have the time or inclination to engage in this.

Here is what I try to do if I am looking for a lawyer for myself or my family in another city. (It happens once in a while.) It’s called “Ask a lawyer who knows.”

First, I try to find a lawyer I trust in the city or town. (We’ll call this lawyer my “friend”) Any lawyer I trust works. I describe the problem that I need solved, and ask my friend who will be the best lawyer to solve my problem.

He may give me one or two names. I call the lawyer my friend suggests, and hire him.

This is the best system I know. It works because if I trust my friend, I know (1) he will be conscientious enough to suggest another good lawyer to solve the problem, and (2) that he won’t try to take the case himself unless he knows he can do the work well.

But this system works for anyone – not just lawyers. All you need is a lawyer who you can trust, who does a good job.

If you have a friend who just went through a divorce or bankruptcy, ask them who handled their case. Ask them what kind of job he did.

If your friend’s lawyer did a good job, call him. If he cared enough to do a good job for your friend, chances are he will care enough to suggest a good lawyer for your problem.

Of course, this system is not foolproof. But people do a good job because they value their reputation. If they care about their reputation enough to do a good job, they will do their best to give an honest answer to any question asked of them as a professional.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. It’s my job not just to know the law, but to know other lawyers. If you’re looking for a lawyer in Cincinnati, speak with an experienced Lawyer – call me at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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