Thanks to the world wide web, anyone can promote their services on-line through systems like google adwords. This enables law firms to target specific terms and pay to appear under these terms. There is no filter. There currently is no law against doing so. The disturbing fact is that folks can write anything in their ads that they want – there is no control or protocol. Law firms can tell prospective clients they have 20 years experience in a particular state like Pennsylvania where they have not. While we think this is poor form, we don’t necessarily fault them, they’re trying to make some money. It does mean however, that you may not be getting the service you expect so you need to know who you are hiring.
When hiring a lemon law attorney, it is very important that you ask questions and not rely solely on self-promoting advertisements and websites. Here are some items you should always consider:
Experience – How long has the company been around for?
Honors, Awards and Recognition – Has the company or lawyers received accolades for their service?
Locations – Beware of the fake office! Very few Lemon Law firms have physical offices in other states, but many of them say they do. Try calling the local phone number or stopping by sometime.
Unfortunately, firms sometimes buy “addresses” to look more established and gain new business. We know of one firm that has no offices in many of the states they claim to practice in. If you see a little asterisk explaining that these are “of counsel” locations, it means they are not directly owned or operated by the law firm. Be as wary of the “of counsel” lawyer as you would be of the “of counsel” surgeon. Limited knowledge and lack of experience is often the hallmark of such arrangements and that could detrimentally affect your case.
Credibility – In many states, lawyers are not permitted to use the terms “expert”, “specialist”, or “premier” in advertising because it gives the public an impression that cannot be verified by objective proof. Sadly, the rules are not always enforced and some firms use them anyway. Rather than accepting the self-promoting tag lines of a law firm, look around and see what community leaders, legislators and the media say.
Former Clients – see if there are testimonials or even blogs from previous clients.
Need more Information? Here are some questions you need to ask a lemon law firm:
– How long has the lawyer been practicing law?
– How long has the lawyer practiced Lemon Law?
– Does the lawyer have a license to practice in the client’s state? (Very important)
– Has the lawyer received any recognition, honors or awards for work performed in the client’s state?
– Has a successful verdict the lawyer tried ever been reported in a legal case reporter? If so, identify the case.
– When was the last time the lawyer received a successful verdict in a Lemon Law case?
– Can the lawyer provide any references of other clients, attorneys, or judges in the client’s state? – If my case cannot be resolved right away, and a lawsuit is necessary, where would it be filed and why?
– How is the lawyer compensated?
– Is the client advised in writing at the start of the case what their rights and responsibilities are? – Is a mechanical expert utilized by the law firm to help prove the case, and if so, is his/her involvement free to the client? (We have four ASE-certified experts on staff)
– What does the client need to do to assist the lawyer in a case?
– Does the lawyer have a physical office within the client’s state?
– Is a lawyer and/or their staff available to speak with clients on a daily basis?
Authors Michael Sacks and Paul Fleming represent Kimmel & Silverman who have been providing cost-free, quality legal representation to distressed consumers of “lemon” cars since 1991. Contact them at www.lemonlaw.com/mail.html or visit their website at www.lemonlaw.com.