How to Check an Attorney's Credentials

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Whether you're writing a will, suing over job discrimination, divorcing your spouse or facing a murder rap, you want the best lawyer you can afford. Before you hire an attorney, use the Internet to find out if this is the lawyer for you.

  • Ask attorneys up front what education and experience they have that qualifies them to solve your project. Be specific: Years of divorce-court experience don't matter if you need an expert in estate planning.

  • Go to martindale.com or lawyers.com and input the name of the attorney or the firm you want to hire. Their databases include information on thousands of lawyers.

  • Contact the state bar association if you still need information. The bar can tell you if the attorney is licensed in your state, and if the bar has disciplined them. Some associations offer free online referral services.

  • Google the attorney and see what turns up. Combine the attorney's name, "attorney" and their city to minimize unrelated results.

  • Request the names of the attorney's past clients. They can tell you what the experience of working with the lawyer in question was really like.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a friend who has faced the same legal problem, ask them if they'd recommend their lawyer.

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