Choosing your lawyer and working with him effectively

There are many factors which should go into the decision to choose your medical malpractice lawyer and whether you will be able to work effectively with him.  The choice of your lawyer may very well be the single most important decision you make in the case. 

State laws do not limit a lawyer's ability to practice law in any type of specialty.  In other words, the law does not prevent a lawyer who does divorces from handling a medical malpractice case on behalf of an injured patient.  In fact, most states do not require lawyers to advertise for their services in a particular specialty of law.  A lot of states prohibit lawyers from advertising in legal specialties unless they have been recognized by a particularly well-credentialed and known association.  Such associations generally must do more than simply certify a lawyer as a specialist by taking a few classes or paying dues to the organization.

Experience in handling medical malpractice claims is the key element in choosing a medical malpractice attorney.  However, it is often difficult to determine a lawyer's experience by simply asking him.  Research into an attorney's credentials can be accomplished with relative ease if the family knows where to look.

Martindale Hubbell (www.martindale.com) is probably the single most authoritative source for determining a lawyer's credentials.  They use a peer review system where they determining ask members of the bar and the judiciary (the judges) about lawyers who have appeared before them.  The system is not subject to manipulation by the lawyer and the confidential opinions ensure accuracy.  The highest rating an attorney can receive is an AV rating.  Make sure that even an attorney with an AV rating is a member of the Bar Registry, which Martindale Hubbell uses to categorize their attorney ratings by specialty.  Thus, a Bar Registry Firm in medical malpractice means that the attorney is rated AV and practices in that specialty.

Other resources to consider include:

  • Check web sites to review the lawyer's biography;
  • Find out if the lawyer has published any articles or papers on the subject of medical malpractice;
  • Has the lawyer ever held any positions of leadership in organizations focusing on the rights of patients in medical malpractice cases?;
  • Has any reputable organization which is recognized by the bar association ever certified the lawyer in the specialty of medical malpractice?
  • Does the lawyer give seminars and speeches to other lawyers and judges to teach medical malpractice issues to them?
  • What percentage of the lawyer's cases are medical malpractice cases?
  • Has the lawyer been practicing medical malpractice law for more than 10 years?
  • What verdicts and settlements has the lawyer achieved in the field of medical malpractice?
  • Does the lawyer have the financial resources to spend on the case?

Meet the lawyer to discuss his potential employment as your attorney.  See if you establish a connection with that lawyer and feel confident and trustful that he is the right one for you.