Finding the right attorney can be a frustrating and challenging process. Not only do you have to make sure that they are qualified, but also that you will be able to work well with them and that they will be able to take your case.
One common method that many people use to find an attorney is by tapping into their network. Make a list of people you are connected to and think about whether you personally know any attorneys or have worked with one in the past. If not, try asking family or friends if they have any recommendations for attorneys.
The problem with this method is that it is very time consuming and does not always provide the best results. Instead, a more productive way to search for an attorney is by using an attorney referral service.
An attorney referral service can be described as a vast network of lawyers that can direct you to or provide contact information for lawyers who may be suited to take your case.
In the state of West Virginia, there is one primary resource that you should visit if you are looking for an attorney referral service: The West Virginia Lawyer Referral Service website, which is sponsored by the West Virginia State Bar. This service is free to use when searching for an attorney and, as of Feburary 2020, only costs $25 for a 30-minute consultation.
All you have to do is visit their website, fill out the relevant information for your matter (e.g., which practice areas, the county where you are located, whether you have a particular attorney in mind, etc.), search their database, and set-up an initial consultation. It is similar to the process of using a search engine, but more focused!
There is also the option of using general search engines of course. If you decide to use this method instead, look for both public and private attorney referral services. Public searches will most likely provide websites for legal aid and non-profit organizations. To qualify for these types of referral services, you will need to be able to meet certain requirements.
Since the West Virginia State Bar has a more limited network than what you may find in other states, your best alternative is to search for a private attorney referral service. These organizations can easily be found by performing a quick online search.
Normally, private attorney referral services are free and will often provide multiple referrals based on where you are located or where your legal action is pending. They can also be extremely helpful because they usually maintain detailed profiles for each attorney that is listed on their website.
What Should I Look for When Searching for an Attorney?
Whether you are using a public or private lawyer referral service to find a West Virginia attorney, there are certain basic credentials that a person should be looking for before hiring an attorney, which includes their:
- Bar Status: Check to see whether the attorney is an officially registered member of the West Virginia State Bar. This may be one of the most important things to check when trying to find the right lawyer for your case.
- Being a member implies that the attorney has fulfilled all of the requirements necessary for becoming a lawyer in the State of West Virginia (e.g., graduating from law school, passing the bar exam, and completing a moral character investigation).
- Active Bar Status: You should also check that their membership status states that they are still currently active and practicing in West Virginia. Having an “inactive” status means that they are not currently practicing, but this status may change over time.
- A member whose status describes them as ineligible, resigned, or disbarred, generally cannot practice law in the state of West Virginia.
- Disciplinary Actions: Look for whether the attorney was ever subjected to any disciplinary actions. A prior history of disciplinary action does not automatically disqualify a lawyer from practicing in West Virginia, however, as a potential client you have every right to know their past indiscretions since they will most likely be working on important legal matters for your case.
- Any Additional Information: You should gather any information that you think may be helpful to your specific case. For example, if your case requires an attorney who specializes in a specific field of law (e.g., real estate), or if you rather hire a lawyer who graduated from a particular law school, all of this information can be found online as well.
Most importantly, regardless of what method you use to find an attorney, once you find them be sure to save their contact information somewhere safe. This includes details, such as their name, law firm address, email address, and telephone number. Otherwise, it may be hard to find or get in touch with them again.
Where Else Can I Find a West Virginia Attorney?
One final option is by registering for free with our website: LegalMatch! Although LegalMatch is not considered an attorney referral service, it does use software that helps to quickly connect you with the right lawyer for a legal matter.
All of the lawyers in the database on LegalMatch are pre-screened and have profiles that visitors may view prior to reaching out to them. Additionally, LegalMatch also offers a section where you can read reviews for a particular attorney, as well as gain access to their ratings.