We live in an age of specialization. Many lawyers concentrate on one area of the law and may have a higher level of expertise to meet your needs. Your matter may not require the highest level of expertise in an area of law and a general practitioner may also be well suited. How do you find the right lawyer for your legal needs? There are many sources of lawyer referrals, which will be discussed below.
Your Family or Local Lawyer
If you know an attorney or someone in your family has utilized a local attorney, it is often a good first step to schedule an appointment to review your legal matter with a local attorney. At that meeting, you should be prepared to verbalize and articulate your legal needs. It is appropriate to inquire of the local attorney their qualifications and expertise in the area that you need legal assistance. Do not be afraid to ask for a referral to a specialized or certified attorney.
Your local Yellow Pages or Yellow Book will have listings of all of the attorneys in your area. Those listings will also include the areas of concentration, specialization, or board certification. It is often difficult to choose one attorney over another. When selecting an attorney, you should inquire of the attorney's educational background, board certifications, years of experience, professional associations, and the number of similar cases handled by that attorney. It is often a good idea to interview more than one attorney, so that you have a basis of comparison. You must feel comfortable with your choice of attorneys and only hire the attorney that has the qualifications and provides you with the trust and confidence that you deserve.
A Certified Attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law. A New Jersey Attorney who is Certified by the Supreme Court has demonstrated proficiency in specialized fields of law. A certification helps lawyers by giving them a way to make their experience known to the public and to other lawyers. A certification also encourages the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence in specialized fields of law. Presently, there are four specialty areas of practice that are approved for certification by the Supreme Court of New Jersey: Civil Trial Law; Criminal Trial Law; Matrimonial Law; and Workers' Compensation. An attorney Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey may advertise their certification. If you have any questions, you may contact the Board on Attorney Certification, PO Box 970, Trenton, NJ 08625-0970; Telephone 609-984-3077.
County Law Referral Services
Each county has a Lawyer Referral Service. Set forth below is a list of all the county Lawyer Referral Services and their phone numbers. They maintain lists of attorneys by areas of concentration. The costs of initial consultations are usually established by the service and are a nominal amount.
Each county maintains a Legal Services Office. Legal Services Attorneys may represent you at no cost if you meet their economic guidelines. The Legal Services phone numbers for each county are also set forth below.
The Public Defender's office may represent you if you are indigent and have a criminal matter. If you are accused of a crime, the court at your first appearance, will advise you of your right to have a public defender represent you.
The Internet is also a good source of information about attorneys. If you conduct a search for the type of an attorney or type of legal issue, you will find an abundance of legal referral sources.
In your search for an attorney you may find organizations, which maintain lists of attorneys as members who specialize in a given practice area. These organizations generally maintain their own private certification programs and qualifications. One such organization is the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), which can be found at AAML.org.
Mark Gruber, Esq. is a name partner in the law firm of Gruber, Colabella & Liuzza, with offices in Hopatcong, Hamburg and Newton, NJ. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a family law attorney and the AAML as a divorce mediator and arbitrator, he has practiced family law for over 28 years in New Jersey.