Almost everyone needs to consult a lawyer or hire an attorney to work for them at some time in their life. However, it's not always easy to tell if the legal professional is legitimate. So, how can you check to see if your attorney is legitimate?
Check with the State Bar Association
Every attorney has to be state certified by passing the bar exam. Every state has a slightly different law exam. Because of the difficulty in passing the bar, most attorneys rarely get certified in more than three states.
You can check into a lawyer's credentials to make sure they are certified to practice law in that state and ensure they are in good standing with the bar and have no black marks against them or any negative marks on their record.
Contact the state bar association in your state to ask about the attorney in question. In some cases, they have an online search tool where you can check. You can also use third-party search engines to search for and find out if your lawyer is legitimate.
Check into Their Education
You may also want to call or visit the law school your attorney said they graduated from. You can do this pretty easily, and the front office should be able to provide you with the information you require.
If your lawyer attended a law school that you are not familiar with, you could do a mini-background check on the school to make sure it is accredited and that it follows similar standards to other more reputable law schools.
Perform a Full Background Check on Your Attorney
You can perform a manual background check on your attorney by gathering all the public records you can find from state and local resources. You might be able to see if they have any pending lawsuits, a criminal record, how many times they have been married and divorced, and if they filed for bankruptcy or have any liens against them. You can also use online tools to pull a comprehensive report that would combine records from all public records resources, plus social media, other email addresses, assets they own, and even stuff pulled from the dark web. Regardless of which way you want to go, you can find out all about the person you are considering representing you.
Gathering a full background check can really help you decide whether or not you want to hire the person to be your lawyer.
A Google search can unearth many skeletons in someone's closet. The way Google works is finding all relevant information, photos, and web pages that mention a person you enter into the search.
Simply enter your lawyer's name into a Google search bar and see what comes up. You might want to navigate to the News and Images tabs to see what shows up there.
If that doesn't bring up enough information, you can also enter other words like your state name, towns, the bar association, or even the school they attended. Use words for things you know about them and see what types of information bubbles to the surface.
Social media is another great way to find information about people, even lawyers, since most people have personal accounts. Check out Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see what kinds of posts show up on their public pages. You could also use a third-party search tool for diving a bit deeper and see if they have any hidden accounts you didn't know about.
You can log onto any social media website and enter the attorney's name in the search bar. Searching on each social media platform may be slightly different but using their name, email, or phone number should bring up any matches.
Check out the Attorney's Website
Another way to gauge whether your attorney is legitimate or someone you want to do business with is to visit their own website. Check to see if it is professional, and the content aligns with what you want in your lawyer. Watch out for a lot of grammar, spelling, or other language issues. It could indicate that it is a scam website or your lawyer isn't who they say they are.
Read any posted testimonials on the website and check out his or her "about page." You may find more information about their background to help you perform a more extensive background check or research further whether or not they are legitimate and the lawyer for you.
Look at Reviews
If your lawyer doesn't provide you with any client names to contact for a testimonial, you can check online sources for legal reviews to see how other people have liked the services he or she provided.
There are dozens of review websites online, and you should be able to find one with reviews for your attorney.