Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, and Insurance Disputes
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact BenGlassLaw. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you can either use the ChatBox on the left or send attorney Ben Glass a confidential message.
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Why Do I Need to Check Lawyer Credentials to Find the Best Lawyers in My Area?
Yes, lawyer credentials DO matter when looking for the best lawyers. A profile page online for an attorney can only say so much, you need to do a little work to find the best attorney for your case – and it’s worth it!
All Lawyers Are NOT Created Equal
Aside from the obvious differences in experience and verdicts won, there are plenty of other things that can set lawyers apart. Two personal injury lawyers who went to the same law school and passed the bar exam with the same score can be completely different in how they approach cases.
For example, saying I’m a Fairfax personal injury attorney is a very broad term; all that says is that I handle cases of negligence in Fairfax in which people got hurt. What it doesn’t say is that I focus my practice on personal injury, ERISA law, medical malpractice, and certain other areas of law.
I spent many years after graduating law school honing my skills in tort litigation and focusing on ERISA law to get where I am today. Any lawyer that takes your case should have the same dedication to his or her area of law.
A Lawyer’s Reputation is Important in Court
Let’s say you found the best lawyer’s profile page after seeing his or her website on the bottom of a TV commercial. The reason you remembered the ad was because it was eye-catching and silly; the lawyer was fighting a tiger saying he or she will "tame the insurance companies" and win your settlement. It was memorable enough to make you look up the attorney, and you make the hire.
Months later, you’re sitting in court with Mr. Tiger Tamer before a local jury arguing your accident case. The same lawyer ad was probably seen by several of the jurors, and that wacky ad may make a not-so-professional impression on those jurors.
I’m not saying that every jury will be swayed by your lawyer’s reputation, but having an attorney with a bad or unprofessional status isn’t going to help matters. On the flip side, don’t trust lawyers who tell you that the insurance companies fear them and will settle at the mere mention of their name. While insurance companies do know which lawyers take cases to trial, each case is settled based on individual circumstances, not which attorney you hire.
Do Expensive Lawyer Ads Mean They’re A Better Lawyer?
Here’s a secret about some lawyer ads: they’re not always created for the law firm they advertise! Have you seen ads with celebrities telling you to call a reputable law firm? Then you see the name of some Fairfax law office (or another specific city in your area) on the bottom?
The ad is trying to make you think that "so-and-so" endorses this attorney. What you don’t know is that these ads are national - the only change is the name of the firm at the bottom of your screen.
Who Pays For These Lawyer Ads?
In some cases, a huge law firm in a major city pays small law firms in remote cities to have big ad campaigns. This helps bring in more cases to the small firms, who may then refer cases to the big firm for a fee. So if this is the case, you could end up not with that Fairfax law firm you expected, but with a firm in another city!
But even if a law firm pays for its advertisements, simply being able to afford a TV commercial or huge billboard doesn’t mean it’s winning cases left and right. All it takes is a single million dollar settlement to provide revenue to fund an expensive ad campaign.
A lawyer’s advertising should never be on your list of credentials to examine when looking for the best lawyer for your case. The only thing lawyer ads do is draw attention to the fact that the lawyer exists. They don’t tell you what working with that law firm will be like, so go to the lawyer’s website, read their materials, and make that initial consultation.
So what’s the best way to find a lawyer if it’s not ads?
Research. Even when you’re looking for a lawyer to handle the case for you, you’re still going to have to do a bit of work yourself. Do you want an ad in the Yellow Pages to determine who is fighting for your injury settlement? Can you trust a divorce attorney simply because you saw an ad on a Fairfax Connector bus bench?
What Credentials Should A Lawyer Have?
When looking for the best lawyer for your case, look at credentials. Being a great lawyer takes more than graduating law school and remaining in good standing with the Virginia State Bar. There are many resources and organizations dedicated to helping consumers find the right lawyer – but not all of them factor equally as a sign of quality legal help.
Certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy
The NBTA allows attorneys to obtain lawyer credentials in specialty areas such as civil litigation. Some of the best lawyers in America boast proudly on their websites and profiles that they are NBTA certified, and with good reason. The United States Supreme Court said, “There is no dispute about the bona fides and the relevance of National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) certification.”
Ratings by AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell
AVVO is easy to search, and even easier for the lawyers to post their AVVO rating directly on their website. AVVO ratings are developed by legal experts for consumers looking for a lawyer – it’s simple to understand and simple to get (if you’re a good lawyer, that is!).
Martindale-Hubbell’s ratings are gold standards in lawyer credentials. Also known as an “AV Rating” they use classifications such as “AV Preeminent” (the highest) to place lawyers on different levels of approval. These ratings can’t be bought –lawyers become eligible for an interview five years after admission to the bar. They must receive favorable opinions from their peers as well as judges.
Listings on Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America
Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America are invite-only and only include those who meet their standards.
Super Lawyers relies on peer nominations and evaluations combined with third-party research to create lists of Super Lawyers. Search for your city in their directory and see who pops up – this should be your short list to begin evaluating. Similarly, the Best Lawyers in America publication is based on nominations from existing members. Peer review surveys help evaluate and rate the top lawyers in 135 practice areas across the U.S.