Your relationship with your lawyer requires a level of trust. To trust a lawyer with your case, you need to know he’s a legitimate lawyer with a license.
It’s critical to do plenty of research to find a reputable lawyer. You need to know how often they win, how they work, and if others have had a good experience working with them.
A lawyer can have rave reviews online, but how do you verify if they have a license? You can take their word for it, or you can perform a lawyer license lookup. Here are five ways to know if a lawyer is legit before hiring them.
1. Make Sure They’ve Passed the Bar
This might seem obvious, but be sure to verify that your lawyer passed the state bar exam. A legal assistant or someone studying to take the Bar exam might be an excellent lawyer—one day.
The lawyer you need today needs to have a valid license in each state where they want to practice law. A fantastic lawyer in Oklahoma can’t try your case in Texas unless they also have a license from the State of Texas.
In Texas, it’s simple to verify if a lawyer has a valid, current license with the Texas State Bar Association. Use this website to type in the name and the law firm of a lawyer.
The search results verify if your lawyer has a valid license. Search results include:
- The lawyer’s name
- The size of their firm
- Their specialty
- Where the lawyer went to law school and the year they graduated
A licensed lawyer has a Texas bar certificate of good standing. That “good standing” part is critical for the next step.
2. Check for Grievances
A licensed lawyer isn’t necessarily a good lawyer. Now that you’ve confirmed the lawyer has a license keep researching to find out if they have any grievances.
The website for the State Bar of Texas also reports any grievances filed against a lawyer. People can file a grievance for lawyers who behave unethically.
When a lawyer receives a grievance for misconduct filed through the Bar:
- The State Bar investigates the grievance.
- If there’s no merit to the grievance, the Bar takes no further action against the lawyer. They dismiss the grievance.
- If the Bar finds merit to the grievance, the lawyer can face disciplinary action.
Evidence of disciplinary action should raise concern for you when researching your lawyer. Discipline can include admonition, reprimand, or censure.
In severe cases of misconduct, the Bar can elect to suspend or disbar a lawyer.
A grievance or disciplinary action isn’t necessarily the sign of a bad lawyer, but it’s worth considering that information when hiring a lawyer. Lawyers in good standing work within the rules of ethics and conduct.
3. Google For Information
Once you’ve found a licensed lawyer in good standing with the Bar, do a Google search for their name.
Look for any information about cases they work and reviews from former or current clients. Find a web page for the law firm and read through client reviews.
Take note if your lawyer’s name appears in news stories. Watch videos of public statements and follow links to learn more about cases and how your lawyer handled the cases.
You can learn a lot about your lawyer by how they present to the public and the kinds of cases they work.
4. Confirm The Info
Does the information you found on the Texas State Bar website match the information you found through a Google search? Does all of the information match the information on the lawyer’s website? Has anyone you know heard of this lawyer?
Take some time to confirm the information you’ve found about the lawyer across multiple sources.
- Check for different spellings of your lawyer’s name. If you find discrepancies, get clarification from the lawyer. Be sure your State Bar license search includes any variations of the lawyer’s name.
- Confirm information about law schools and licenses match across sources.
- Verify awards or accolades noted on the law firm’s website. If an award seems made-up, it might be.
Discrepancies in spelling or different client testimonies don’t mean your lawyer is a fraud. However, it’s critical to verify the lawyer you research is who you think they are.
5. Ask Around
Ask for recommendations. Sometimes all of the details can add up and prove that a lawyer has a license and has a good win rate for cases.
But, sometimes the personal input of friends, family, or others in your area can give a more complete picture of working with a lawyer.
Lawyers can seem perfect online or on paper, but if they’re difficult to work with or they carry too big of a caseload, they might not be the right choice for you.
Take other client experiences and input with a grain of salt. Use personal references in addition to the information you’ve vetted through other sources.
Use a Lawyer License Lookup as a Tool to Verify a Lawyer
Using a lawyer license lookup is just one way to verify that you’re choosing the right lawyer for your situation. Whether it’s criminal defense or personal injury, sometimes the lawyer with the most prominent billboards or loudest television commercials aren’t quite what they claim to be.
Sometimes a flashy website and an eager lawyer can overshadow the details required to work your case legally. Without a license, your lawyer can’t do anything for you. Don’t risk spending money on “legal” help that isn’t legal.
Verify a lawyer before hiring them. In the Houston area, Mario Madrid is your Texas licensed lawyer for criminal defense or personal injury. Contact us for a free consultation about your case!