It is probably relatively obvious how to find an attorney, open the yellow pages or jump on Google and you will have thousands to choose from. The title of this post should be “how to find a GOOD attorney in Milwaukee?”
The first thing to realize is that a good attorney for one person, is not always a good attorney for another person. This holds true the other way around as well, a good client for one attorney is not always a good client for another attorney. I cannot write from experience about what to look for in an attorney, as I have never hired one before. However, from the other end of the table, I can write about what makes a good working relationship and what makes a bad one between attorney and client. The most important thing to realize when hiring an attorney is that the law, at least in the United States, is fluid. It is not a constant thing, and it is entirely too large and complex for anyone to know everything about it. What we are able to effectively do as lawyers, is find out what the law is, and apply each set of unique facts to it.
To that end, lawyers are not fortune tellers. We cannot predict the future. Hopefully, we can give you some information about what to expect, and likely outcomes to help you decide if it is worthwhile pursuing your case. That being said, realize that what you should be evaluating when meeting with a lawyer for the first time is whether you like this person, whether you think they can do a good job, and if you think you can work well with them. These are the things that I look for in a potential client.
It may not be something that is often talked about, but Lawyers automatically put up a red flag anytime someone has fired (or worse, been fired by) a previous attorney. I always have the policy that everyone has “one free pass” as I figure there are bound to be simple personality conflicts that end a relationship. But, if I see that someone has recently been through 2-3 attorneys on the same case, I am going to think long and hard about taking this person on as a client. The “Wisconsin Lawyer” magazine recently had an article about dealing with problem clients, “How can I avoid Problem Clients or ethically disengage from representing one?” Vol. 81, No. 10, October 2008, which featured an answer I had submitted. While it is certainly enlightening for lawyers, I think it can also help to educate clients in how to avoid being labeled a “problem client.”
Back to the question at hand is how to find an attorney that will do a good job for you and that you can trust. Probably the best route is to talk to friends and family members and ask if they have anyone to recommend. After that though, I believe the internet gives you the best chance to evaluate an attorney before you meet him. Check out his or her website, read their bio, see if they have a blog and read things they have written. Check and see if they have an Avvo or Martindale-Hubble ranking. Do your research and find someone that is going to be a good fit for you.