I'm not sure exactly how to answer this question without indicating arrogance on my part versus trying to help, but it's been asked before and it's time once again to try and answer it.
Start off with who the lawyer has been in the past. Do you know the lawyers reputation for the work they do? Do you have a friend or co-worker you can speak to about their experiences? How about a friendly lawyer that is willing to talk and can vouch for the lawyer's reputation. Like real estate law is local; meaning laws are govern by state, county and city and since lawyers are licensed for matter such as these by state bar associations you need to know the local reputation of the lawyer.
Keep in mind one bad experience isn't often times indicative of a ‘bad lawyer', but if the lawyer is churning cases and not servicing people there usually is a basis for the bad rep.
Does the lawyer write publicly and put their reputation for honesty on the line with what they write? If not, you have to ask why. And if they do write read what they write and ask yourself if you like their style and way of thinking. I pride myself on saying what I believe my clients need to hear not necessarily what they may want to hear. In other words this isn't a popularity contest for me. Like me or not you'll get advice that is practical and hopefully accurate. But that won't always be true because garbage in means garbage out; and if you haven't told the lawyer all the facts his or her advice won't really be totally accurate.
And check the Iowa Bar Association website to see if there have been legitimate complaints on file with publicly published action on the part of the bar. If there is read the notice because not all ethical action indicates the lawyer doesn't know what they are doing just that they've made a mistake at some time or another. Remember Frank Galvin? He was an alcoholic ambulance chaser that during the winding trail of investigating a medical malpractice case found his soul for do what was right by the young brain damaged patient as he fought for her against the mighty Archdiocese of Boston that ran a large and powerful Boston hospital.
And by the way can you name the then young movie star who is cast as a courtroom observer?
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