dig deep, skip ads to find good trial lawyer

            Posted on February 7, 2016 

            Dig deep, skip ads to find good trial lawyer

Q. I’m involved in a highly contested divorce case that is sure to be tried.
How can I find a lawyer who has actually tried lots of divorce cases?

PE, East Boston  

A. Most lawyers never try a case. Others try just two or three cases in their career. Some lawyers try one case every few years. Lots of lawyers have argued motions seeking alimony, parenting time, and other things that come up in a divorce case. But despite what those lawyers may think of themselves, they are most assuredly not trial lawyers.

Also, lawyers who have tried several cases are not necessarily good at what they do. As in all professions, there are good and not-so-good practitioners. You need to carefully look at the first few pages of a Google search. Don’t call lawyers who paid to have their names in advertisements or who paid to have an ad in Find Law.

Lawyers who pay for an ad to get their name at or near the top of a Google search are really only good at paying money for an ad. Ditto for lawyers who come up high in various chat rooms, etc. They, too, are best at being on the internet and saying or getting others to say great things about them even though the cases were probably uncontested.

To find really good trial lawyers, look for the names of lawyers who are listed after the ads and organizations that lawyers can pay to be included. And check the website of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers acftl.com for the name of 100 of the top trial lawyers in the country.

Next, telephone the lawyers and ask “How many trial days have you had in each of the last three years?”

Trial days are more important than the number of cases, because one complex trial can take four to 15 days.  Unless a case is impounded, the clients’ names and copies of the judge’s findings of fact, rationale, and judgment are not confidential. So also ask the client’s name and those court documents. Then you can make a better judgment about who to hire for your contested case.

But remember, even if the lawyer’s client did not win the case, that doesn’t mean the lawyer is bad. Lawyers cannot change the facts. Often, clients insist on trying their case even if the facts are against them. Then you need to know if the lawyer’s efforts minimized the bad result.

Also, as with any rule of thumb, some of the best trial lawyers haven’t tried a case in years. That’s because other lawyers don’t want to try a case against that lawyer. Instead those cases settle on a fair and reasonable basis.

So don’t jump in just because the public relations look good. PR isn’t worth a bucket of spit in a courtroom.