With the recent verdicts in California and New Jersey against manufacturers of defective transvaginal mesh products, the flood of lawyer advertisements will begin. Many women have suffered severe personal injury and disability from these products. They have questions. They need good legal help.

Alabama is fortunate to have a number of attorneys who are very skilled in handling defective product claims. The same is true for other states as well. How do you tell the good from the bad? How do you tell which ones will actually represent you as a person and not as a number? How do you tell which ones actually know how to prepare a case for trial?

In the last week since the latest mesh verdict, I have received several mass emails from lawyers claiming they are "national law firms" and seeking these cases. One attorney from another state even called me. I looked him up to see his credentials. What I found was a solo attorney with a new law degree and a brand new firm. He did have experience in creating websites prior to law school. Was he really going to handle complicated defective product claims from places throughout the Untied States? Do you think he understood the specifics of Alabama law and how they differed from other states? Do you think he had ever tried a case or even examined an expert witness? I suspect his intentions were different – get the case and refer it to another lawyer.

This brings me back to my prior question – How can you tell the good from the bad? How can you tell which lawyer to hire? After all, you are entrusting a very serious matter to this person. You can do several things to help make this decision. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Does the lawyer have real experience handling complex cases in your state? For me, that is Alabama. Each state has unique legal rules. Lawyers who don’t understand these rules can quickly ruin a good claim.
  2. Does the lawyer prepare his or her cases? This may sound like a silly question. However, too many lawyers fail to prepare their cases. Consistently good results come with consistent preparation. If you have ever played sports, then you know that all the hard work in practice is what separates the championship teams from everyone else.
  3. Does the lawyer have the desire to go to trial if needed? Trial is like war. Reasonable clients do not want to go to trial. However, sometimes trial is needed. Will your lawyer go to trial? Does he or she even know what to do in trial?
  4. Does the lawyer care about you as a client? When I first graduated from law school (18 years ago), an old lawyer told me that all lawsuits are personal. He was right. They are about real people who are hurting. A good lawyer should not only be good at dealing with the legal issues, he or she should respect you as a client.

How do you get answers to these questions:

  1. Ask people that you trust in your community.
  2. Research the attorney. Any attorney can create a website that claims they are an expert. You should dig a little deeper than the attorney’s own website. Many attorneys have profiles on LinkedIn or Avvo that contain information concerning their professional background. Avvo even rates lawyers as does Martindale-Hubbell. Many attorneys have also published information that can often be easily found on the internet.
  3. Talk to the attorney. I interview every potential client in detail before taking a case. That time is important. I find out about your case. I also get to know you in order to decide if we can work together on your case. I am shocked by the number of people who hire lawyers they have never even met. In many cases, the client meets only with a paralegal or, even worse, simply receives paperwork in the mail and returns it upon completion.

Clients who are hurt need an attorney with the ability and desire to really prepare their case. The insurance companies and drug companies have plenty of money to hire skilled lawyers for their defense. Before you hire a lawyer to pursue your claim, ask a few questions to make sure you get representation that is up to the task.