Choosing the Right Attorney

The web is full of attorneys who claim to be experts in their field.  Many of them have put out dozens of web-sites, all designed to drive traffic to them.

How can you tell a good attorney from a bad one?  Ask the following questions:

Where did you attend law school?

A great law school will produce great lawyers. Mr. Anderson attended law school at the UCLA School of Law.

What rank does your school hold in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings?

UCLA Law School has been consistently ranked in the top-20 law schools in the United States.

What was your class rank at graduation?

Most good law schools will rank their students according to their Grade Point Average.  A higher rank means that the student performed better in school.  Mr. Anderson was ranked number 3 in his class at the end of his second year and number 6 (out of approximately 300) at graduation.

Did you work for a federal Judge before you started practicing law?

A good lawyer will work for a federal Judge before starting the practice of law.  An externship is a volunteer position taken by a law student with a federal Judge, usually for one semester.  A clerkship is a full-time job taken by a new lawyer with a federal Judge, usually for one year.  Mr. Anderson performed an externship for a federal Judge during his second year in law school.

When I call you to talk about my case, will I speak with you, or your secretary?

A good lawyer is available for his clients.  Mr. Anderson answers his own phones and can be reached by phone or email.

Do you write demand letters or file lawsuits?

Some “lemon lawyers” that advertise on the web are nothing more than letter writing mills.  They write a demand letter and hope that the manufacturer will offer a settlement.  They often pressure their clients to accept substandard settlements so that they will receive attorney fees.  Some of these lawyers don’t file any lawsuits, and will drop your case if you don’t agree to accept whatever the manufacturer offers.

Mr. Anderson requires that you attempt to resolve your concerns directly with the manufacturer before you hire a lawyer.  If the manufacturer refuses, Mr. Anderson will represent you in a lawsuit, filed in Court, and will fight for you until the manufacturer agrees to pay a reasonable settlement.

Have you handled any cases in federal court?

Any case filed against Ford, GM, or Chrysler can be removed from State Court to Federal Court.  For that reason, it is critical to hire a lawyer with experience handling federal cases. Mr. Anderson has handled in excess of 40 cases in federal court, and performed an externship with a federal Judge before starting his law practice.

Have you handled any cases involving “out of state delivery”?

RV cases involving out of state delivery are the most difficult lemon law cases, and many attorneys refuse to take them.  Mr. Anderson has been pioneer in this field, and the most important published decisions in this area were cases where Mr. Anderson represented the Plaintiff.

Have you handled any appeals?

Any lawsuit can result in an appeal.  Having a lawyer who has experience with appeals increases the chances that your opponent will choose not to fight, and will ensure that you have adequate representation if they do.  Mr. Anderson has handled more than 15 appeals, including one before the California Supreme Court.

Has your work resulted in any published decisions?  How many?

Courts publish decisions when they involve important questions of law.  The more published decisions your attorney has, the more important cases he has handled.  Mr. Anderson has more than 15 published decisions, including decisions from the California Courts of Appeal, California District Courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court.

How do you use technology in your office?

For hundreds of years, lawyers have used paper as their preferred medium for storing information, and most lawyers continue to do just that.  The Anderson Law Firm is a paperless office.  All documents are scanned into PDF format upon receipt and can be called up on any computer in our office.  In addition to our paper copy backups, we also maintain multiple on-site backups.

Many Courts, including the Orange County Superior Court and the United States District Court require that attorneys electronically file all documents.  The Anderson Law Firm is equipped to file electronically in the Courts where we practice.  In fact, Mr. Anderson wrote the book on Electronic Filing in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Do you subscribe to an online legal research service?  Which one?

Large corporations hire defense attorneys who have access to the latest online legal research platforms.  You should hire an attorney who can match their ability to quickly and easily find the latest case law concerning the issues that arise in your lemon law case.

The Anderson Law Firm subscribes to Westlaw, the premier online legal research platform with direct access to all California and Federal cases and statutes.  We also subscribe to the Rutter Group’s Civil Practice Guides.  The Rutter Group’s Civil Procedure Before Trial is the resource for lawyers who practice civil law in California.

If you consult with an attorney who does not have access to either Westlaw or LexisNexis, or who does not have either  a subscription to The Rutter Group Guide or the hard cover version, you should keep looking.