Narrowing Down the Best Sarasota Lawyer for YouFinding the best Sarasota attorney is crucial for achieving an optimal outcome in your personal injury case. When you have an exceptional lawyer in your corner, you increase the likelihood of reaching a maximum settlement and a positive court ruling in your favor. There are lots of fine attorneys in the Sarasota area, but choosing the best personal injury lawyer for you requires some legwork. The following guide offers some tips to help you hire the best Sarasota attorney to assist you with your personal injury case.
Reach out to Your Contacts for RecommendationsIt's likely you know at least one person who has had to hire an attorney after suffering a personal injury. It might be a family member, a close friend, or a professional with whom you do business. Asking that person for a recommendation (or for insight on who not to hire) can be an effective way to find the Sarasota personal injury attorney who is right for you. That's because your contacts will likely be willing to share candid opinions with you and because you have a context for weighing how much to trust the recommendation they give you. Lawyers know word-of-mouth recommendations give them a significant amount of business, which is why the best lawyers invest in providing excellent client service.
Read Online Client ReviewsPerforming a simple Google search for the best attorneys in Sarasota will return several results that include client reviews. You will also find that many law firm websites offer client testimonials. It's good information to read, but you should be wary about using this method to choose your personal injury attorney. Ethics rules bar lawyers from publishing fake reviews on their websites, so you can trust the glowing reviews they put up there are real. But, that doesn't mean a law firm has to also publish negative reviews or testimonials if they exist. For a clearer picture of how former clients regard a lawyer, or at least one that is more objective, head to avvo.com and look up the lawyer you're interested in on the site's massive attorney directory. Almost all attorneys who practice in the United States are listed there. You can look up personal injury attorneys in Sarasota and Florida, as well as their practice area, legal topic, and name. Each avvo.com profile includes client reviews with comments and a one-to-five star rating. An attorney's profile also includes an aggregate client review star rating to give you a broad sense of a lawyer's reputation with past clients. You can use avvo.com to learn when a lawyer was licensed, if the lawyer is in good standing with the Florida State Bar and if the lawyer has ever faced disciplinary action for poor conduct. Avvo.com also gives each attorney a score on a scale of one to ten, which takes all aspects of an attorney's profile into account. The best Sarasota attorneys have an avvo.com score close to ten.
Read Online Peer ReviewsIf you are short on time and want to narrow your search quickly, online peer reviews can provide a reliable way to choose the best Sarasota attorney for your needs. Attorneys have strong incentives to give honest reviews of their colleagues, and it helps that many peer reviews are confidential, which increases candor. A positive peer review signals a strong reputation within the legal community. Avvo.com features peer endorsements, as do other several other legal industry websites, including the following:
- Martindale-Hubbell maintains a large registry of more than a million attorneys who practice in the United States. Attorney profiles include biographies, contact information, and peer reviews. Lawyers whose peers have rated them with the highest level of professional excellence in their practice area have an AV designation from Martindale-Hubbell on their profile.
- The Best Lawyers in America is a yearly list of lawyers selected for their exceptionalism. Those included on the list have been nominated by other attorneys and reviewed during a confidential vote. Each year, Best Lawyers includes attorneys from almost 60 practice areas on their list. The company automatically renews a nomination once a lawyer has been recognized and selected for the list. Additionally, selected lawyers are responsible for reviewing new nominations. The best Sarasota lawyers show up on Best Lawyers year after year.
- Super Lawyers is a list of exceptional attorneys across the United States from 70 practice areas. This elite designation is reserved for the top five percent of practicing attorneys from each state. Super Lawyers selects attorneys for the list based on peer reviews and independent research about an attorney and the firm that employs them.
Research Honors and AwardsThe legal profession is known for recognizing its own with honors and awards. These recognitions serve as a great reward for an attorney because it means that the lawyer has a positive reputation within the legal community. The most prestigious local, state, and national awards rely on some type of peer evaluation process to choose recipients and include “Lawyer of the Year” and “Law Firm of the Year” awards presented by Best Lawyers, and the coveted awards from the National Law Journal and the American Bar Association (ABA). The best Sarasota lawyers might also receive local recognition for their service as well as prestigious awards from the Florida Bar Association.
Schedule an Initial ConsultationOnce you've done some research, you should be able to narrow your list of potential attorneys. It's standard in the legal profession for law firms to offer free consultations to prospective clients. Your initial consultation allows a qualified attorney to hear the details of your case. It also allows you to learn more about a particular attorney by getting answers to questions about them you couldn't find online. Choosing the best Sarasota attorney requires gathering as much information as possible before deciding whether to move forward with someone. You should ask questions about client service, experience, and your case. The questions you ask depend on what you have learned about your potential attorney before meeting them. These three broad questions serve as a jumping-off point for things you should ask during your first meeting:
What Kind of Client Service Can I Expect?Some attorneys meet with potential clients and win their business, but then pass the clients off to junior attorneys in their firm. When you're considering retaining a law firm to represent you, find out what attorney you will have the majority of your interactions with. If a lawyer doesn't offer this information, then you should ask about it. You should also ask other client service-related questions, such as:
- How long the attorney takes to respond to phone calls, emails, and texts; and
- How regularly you can expect to receive updates on your case.
What Is Your Past Experience With Cases Like Mine?No matter how supportive you are of education and professional development, no one wants a rookie with no experience representing them in a lawsuit. A seasoned lawyer has honed their negotiating skills and has experience fighting cases out in the courtroom. Additionally, lawyers who have been in practice for a while should be familiar with current developments in Florida law relating to personal injury cases. During your free consultation, ask your potential lawyer for examples of cases similar to yours, including examples of successful and unsuccessful negotiations. No attorney can guarantee results in any case, but responses to these questions will give you a realistic idea of how experienced your lawyer is in personal injury law and the court system. You should also ask questions about a lawyer's caseload. For example, ask how many clients are they currently representing and how many personal injury cases they handle per year. Ultimately you want to see evidence showing the lawyer has an active practice, but is not overloaded with cases that your lawyer will be stretched too thin for effective representation. There is no “correct” number of cases. Some lawyers focus their efforts on just a few high-profile cases, while others stay busy with a larger number of routine matters. Your goal should simply be to gauge how much bandwidth the lawyer has to commit to your case. Learning about an attorney's litigation experience and willingness to go to trial is also crucial to hire the best Sarasota attorney. Most personal injury cases settle without having to go to trial, but the best lawyers will aggressively litigate a case when it's necessary to get full compensation. Ask the lawyer you meet with how many cases they have tried in front of a jury in the past five or six years. There should be at least a few cases to point to that will give you comfort in knowing that the attorney has the courtroom skills necessary to win at trial if that's what it takes.
What Strategies Would You Use to Win My Case?After you provide details of your case to a potential attorney, ask specific questions about how the lawyer might tackle the issues in your case. Don't expect definitive answers, necessarily. A responsible lawyer will resist coming up with a strategy on-the-fly, and until you and the attorney agree on a representation, the lawyer will also be cautious not to give you specific legal advice. That said, a lawyer should be willing to give you some general impressions and ideas for how the case could go, such as:
- Obvious strengths or weaknesses that stand out for the lawyer;
- Florida statutes or legal doctrines that might apply to the case; and
- The range of damages typical of cases like yours (understanding there are no guarantees and every case is different)
Hire an Experienced Sarasota Lawyer TodayWhen you find your best Sarasota attorney, you and the attorney will likely enter into a written agreement that defines the terms of the representation. The agreement will:
- Explain the lawyer's office practices
- Identify the lawyers and paralegals who will have responsibility for your case
- Explain how the attorney's fees, costs, and expenses will be paid