FIND A GOOD LAWYER
When you need a lawyer
Many people get through life without needing a lawyer. Many more can get through life using a reasonably competent lawyer sometimes. Sometimes – usually as a matter of urgency – you need a red hot lawyer.
Red Hot Lawyers
You normally have a pretty good idea what your problem is. Is it Divorce, Crime, Immigration, Probate, Neighbour Dispute or what?
How important is this – would you travel for three hours to find a good lawyer, or will a moderately competent OK lawyer in your town do?
My starting point for a red hot lawyer is always www.chambersandpartners.com , because of the way Chambers operates.
Only the very best lawyers get into Chambers. In any area of law there are a few firms recognised by everyone as being very good. Chambers researchers telephone them every year, to ask “who else is good?”, who is “up and coming?”, who should we watch out for? If the same name is mentioned by several experts, then that person is a possible entrant.
Naturally, the same lawyers are in Chambers year after year. Some die, some go off to become judges, some move away from an area of practice or are just crowded out by new entrants if they are no longer mentioned in the first 3 by everyone.
In Yorkshire, which contains large cities and a total population of 2.6 million people, there are thousands of lawyers who will conduct your divorce. Chambers mentions just fourteen. They are the best.
For the lawyer, entry into Chambers is free. A firm cannot buy its way in, except by headhunting lawyers who are already in and offering them very significant money – more than they are already earning.
How about a good lawyer instead?
The Red Hot lawyers are surprisingly cheap. The reason for this is that they usually head teams of lawyers. Assuming you cannot afford the very high fees charged by the stars, you will often be given a newly qualified lawyer or even a trainee lawyer. A job in the Family Department of one of the leading firms in the region attracts a lot of good candidates. Having got in, these lawyers are trying to prove to the firm that they are worthy of promotion. They will be significantly better than a lawyer in the small town near your home.
But maybe you do not need such a red hot lawyer that you will travel 3 hours to get to his office. How do you find a good lawyer?
I would start by telephoning the nearest red hot lawyer and explain you would like a recommendation for a divorce lawyer within say 50 miles of your home, or in a city near you. There is a fair chance they will name a couple of firms – approach them in the same order as they are recommended.
Still having trouble?
The fact that you are looking for a lawyer tells me that there is no lawyer who immediately springs to mind.
The best lawyers get word of mouth referrals, and do not have to advertise. If a lawyer takes half a page in the Yellow Pages, or has billboards all over town, why is he doing it? He may be a good lawyer or he may not. The fact that he has to advertise incessantly for clients is a clue.
If he is hanging around the court handing out cards, or hires people to shill for him, why is he having to do this?
If I wanted to know the best criminal lawyer in town, I would ask a Mafioso. If I wanted to know the best finance lawyer in town, I would ask a Mafioso – or a rich accountant from a big firm. Who is likely to know? Ask them.
If still no-one comes to mind, ask around. Try to go economically upmarket from where you are, because the rich generally have better lawyers.
What are my credentials?
I am a retired solicitor. Yes, I was in Chambers as a “leading individual” in “The North East” (which included Yorkshire) for my area of practice, which was UK Immigration. Clients travelled to see me in my Bradford office from Scotland and London, Birmingham and Teeside. I was recommended by bar owners in Thailand and grannies in Lahore. Some refugees arrived at Dover from Georgia (the country) and from Iraq, already carrying my business card, which had been posted to them by satisfied clients. I led a team of 9 lawyers and paralegals.