Sure you can Google, Face-book and Twitter a lawyer and they can write anything they want on their website. But for the hard facts try these.
1. Are they licensed in your state? Verify that they are licensed at the State Bar Association’s web site and see if and when they got their license.
Missouri, go to http://www.mobar.org/LawyerDirectory.aspx
- Type in the last and first name of the attorney you would like to check on. The search will return the attorney’s bar number, how long they’ve been a lawyer (date of admission to the Missouri Bar), and whether or not they are an active member in good standing, or another status.
California, go to http://www.calbar.ca.gov/
- At the top left side of the page click on “Attorney Search”
- Type in the last and the inital of first name of the attorney, followed by a comma and then their last name. The search will return the attorney’s bar number, current status, contact information and how long they’ve been a lawyer (date of admission to the California Bar), as well as whether or not the attorney has had any disciplinary or administrative actions.
2. Compare the lawyer’s website with what the state bar says. Check their website and see if their biography or “about” page says how long they’ve been a lawyer. That should agree with the state bar. The state bar page is accurate. For example, look at my information or click on “about” at the top of the page: http://lesterlaw.com/about-2/
3. Are they a member of the national consumer lawyer’s organization? Go to National Association of Consumer Attorneys (NACA) webpage http://www.naca.net/, and see if they are listed. NACA requires its members to show they do not represent collection companies, banks or mortgage companies but that they do represent consumers. They thoroughly research any lawyer attempting to join their organization. Most well known respected consumer lawyers are members. If the lawyer you’re thinking of hiring isn’t a member I would question why.
Select “Find An Attorney”
- Select the State (Missouri or California) and type in the last name of the attorney. The search will return the attorney’s name, year they joined NACA, a firm name and office location.
- Click on the link for the attorney’s name, you’ll be given their website, if they have one, and email address.
4. Are they licensed to practice in Federal Court? ( United States District Court) Because these cases may end up in Federal Court , you may want to know if the attorney is also admitted to practice there. The Federal Courts require an additional law license to represent people in front of their courts even if they are licensed in that state’s bar.
Call the Clerk of the District Court to find out if a particular attorney is licensed to practice before the Federal Court; the Clerk will check that information for you. It is public information but not presently available on their website.
- Clerk, United States District Court for the Eastern District Missouri – 314-244-7900
You can check to see if an attorney is admitted to practice in Federal District Court (Southern District of California) by going to http://www.casd.uscourts.gov/
- Select “Attorney Assistance”
- Choose “Attorney Admissions Search”
- Type in the last name of the attorney you are researching
- Click on the linked name of the attorney out of the list. It will return information including name, and how long they’ve been practicing before the Federal Bar (date of admission)
- Finally are they “registered in ECF”? ECF is electronic case filing and it is required if you file lawsuits in that Federal Court. If they aren’t registered they probably never sue any collectors or debt buyers in Federal Court.
5. Finally, call the attorney and ask when they were licensed, what law school they graduated from and if they are a member of NACA and/or the local Federal bar. They should have no hesitation in giving you that information and you can compare it with what you have found.