How to look up a lawyer's history?
January 31, 2006 8:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend here in New York who has a major personal injury case starting very soon dealing with his child. Involved is a major chain, and some serious plastic surgery. Is there a database to check out some of the lawyers who are in contact with my friend - about their history, wins / losses, etc?
posted by eatdonuts to Law & Government (18 answers total)
 
I will email you regarding this.
posted by falconred at 8:50 PM on January 31, 2006


Martindale-Hubbell is generally considered the most authoritative directory of attorneys.

The key is the rating system. Distinguished lawyers at the height of their careers generally have AV ratings. Decent, but not extraordinary attorneys have BV ratings. Very new attorneys, or long-time but not-very-good attorneys, have CV ratings. The ratings are based on peer evaluation. I don't think the rating system is perfect by any means, but it is a strong clue to the status and respect that has been attained by a given attorney within the profession.
posted by jayder at 8:56 PM on January 31, 2006


How do I find out a particular lawyer's rating? How is it that I may help my friend who must spend all their time right now caring for their child in the hospital? I guess time is an essential factor you would say.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:02 PM on January 31, 2006


Ok, looking at martindale-hubbell right now...
posted by eatdonuts at 9:03 PM on January 31, 2006


oooer- funny how some of the lawyers that we've been referred to aren't in this site...
posted by eatdonuts at 9:05 PM on January 31, 2006


Not all lawyers have a rating. If we don't like our rating, we have the option of "hiding" it so that it is not visible to the public. Some of us have not been rated.

Established lawyers (say, in private practice for 6+ years) will generally have a listing in Martindale-Hubbell. The more extensive entries (which give complete educational listings, publications, and employment history. etc.) are paid listings. The briefer entries are the free entries. The ratings don't cost anything.
posted by jayder at 9:29 PM on January 31, 2006


I'm sorry, eatdonuts, I didn't quite answer your question (although you probably figured it out). The rating is positioned just under their name and contact information toward the top of the listing.
posted by jayder at 9:33 PM on January 31, 2006


One thing I would mention, although this may really go without saying. Many attorneys think it is best, in a very meritorious personal injury case with extensive physical injuries, to steer clear of high-volume personal injury practices (a strong clue that they are high-volume is extensive advertising and full-page Yellow Pages ads).

Those firms are settlement factories, and many of them are not set up to go to trial. The insurance companies who represent defendants much prefer to see plaintiffs represented by these settlement factories (which want to settle cases quickly, and thus do not push for a higher dollar amount), than by a high-powered, established lawyer or firm that is well-equipped to take the case to trial and get a big verdict if they do.
posted by jayder at 10:02 PM on January 31, 2006


"Settlement factories" put their efforts into advertising and ambulance chasing. There may be exceptions, but as a rule any firm that has tracked you down in an attempt to solicit your case is probably never going to get full value, that is, present a credible threat to the defense (insurance company) attorneys of taking it to trial.

If you have any lawyer friends, ask them what firm they would contact if their child got hurt in a tort case.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:25 AM on February 1, 2006


eatdonuts, if those attorneys came to your friend, rather than the other way around, my personal advice would be not to retain any of them. The truly good, capable personal injury lawyers don't have to go looking for clients. I would follow sacre_bleu's advice: Ask other lawyers to whom they would take their tort case.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:31 AM on February 1, 2006


Just so you know, Martindale-Hubbell listings are pay-for-play. You don't get listed unless you pay. That, by no means, discounts the ratings system or their directory feature, but I think it's important to know. That's probably why some of the PI attorneys you've been referred to aren't on there.

I am a lawyer and I have worked with a very well known and highly regarded PI firm over the last few years, and from experience I suggest that you don't retain any attorney that has come to you.

If you want a referral, I am happy to provide a few.
posted by MeetMegan at 9:00 AM on February 1, 2006


Actually, Meetmegan, a basic listing (name, name of firm, educational background) in Martindale Hubbell is free; the extensive profiles are paid.

So, many lawyers ARE listed who have not paid.
posted by jayder at 9:39 AM on February 1, 2006


Right, but those basic listings don't include AV/BV/CV ratings, to your point. I should have been clearer.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:17 PM on February 1, 2006


Also, practice areas are not listed in MH's free listing. So, searching for a PI lawyer relying on free listings is moot. (This comes up all the time in my line of work - I am a marketing director for a law firm - I deal with MH at least once a week).

Martindale's ratings explanation.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:25 PM on February 1, 2006


MeetMegan, according to Martindale-Hubbell's own FAQ concerning the Peer Review Rating system, you do not have to have a paid listing to have a Peer Review Rating, or for it to be included in your profile. (See the answer to the second question in the FAQ.)
posted by jayder at 1:02 PM on February 1, 2006


Sorry, jayder, I'm relying on information that I received from my Martindale rep when we were considering canceling our Martindale "subscription".

It's really not worth arguing about anyways.
posted by MeetMegan at 3:31 PM on February 1, 2006


Who's arguing?

Well, anyway, maybe that explains why my (unpaid) listing includes no rating.
posted by jayder at 7:31 PM on February 1, 2006


This is off-topic, but I would feel guilty not mentioning it since the discussion is making mention of switching lawyers.

Personal injury cases are subject to a short statute of limitations, which means that the case must be filed within a short period of time or it cannot be filed. I don't know how long this period is for your situation, but if your friend decides to switch lawyers, or decides to keep their current lawyer but does not get frequent updates and specific information about the case, the time period could lapse and the claim could then not be brought. In other words, time is of the essence here.
posted by MrZero at 10:23 PM on February 1, 2006


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