In the previous post about how to find the right attorney when you have sustained an injury as a result of someone else’s negligent behavior, we discussed the importance of getting recommendations from people you trust. As you create your list of prospects, consider their experience and try to work with a local attorney whenever possible. If you followed those recommendations, you have compiled a short list of prospective attorneys who could represent you in your personal injury lawsuit. Now, let’s consider taking a deeper dive into their background and qualifications to find the best lawyer for your injury case.

Review the lawyer’s credentials

Every attorney has many credentials that appear the same– they went to High School, College, and Law School and passed the Bar Exam in their state. However, despite the similarity of these credentials, the ability of two lawyers with credentials that look identical can often be miles apart. So, how are you supposed to pick a good lawyer from a bad lawyer by reviewing their credentials? Well, as I said before, word of mouth and reputation in the community is more important than any “paper credentials.”  

However, a few things in the credentials may suggest that one attorney may be better qualified to handle your case than another. Credentials that provide valuable clues about the attorney include:

  • Memberships in professional associations,
  • Selections for merit-based or invitation-only organizations,
  • Whether the lawyer has been invited to lecture other lawyers on legal topics and,
  • Whether the lawyer has authored and published articles in legal publications.

Membership in professional organizations

Membership in professional associations may or may not tell you whether an attorney is suitable to handle your case. Because, quite frankly, most professional associations require nothing more than the payment of a membership fee. In other words, whether you are a good attorney or bad attorney, you can join that association by just paying a fee.  

For instance, if I wanted to join a national association of bankruptcy attorneys, I would be able to do so even though I don’t know about bankruptcy. However, I would never consider handling a bankruptcy case. While membership in these associations cannot tell you whether an attorney is competent to take your case, it can provide helpful information. If an attorney is not a member of a professional association in an area of law, that is a huge warning sign. It could indicate that that attorney may not have enough experience to handle your case.

For example, I am a member of several professional associations associated with personal injury and medical malpractice cases:  The New York and Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Associations, the New York Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). My membership in these associations does not mean that I am necessarily a good injury attorney. Still, it does show that I at least am interested in subjects involving injury lawyers. If you are looking for an injury lawyer, these associations would be essential to consider. 

Invitation only associations

Associations that invite the attorney to join because they have distinguished themselves significantly are more significant than associations that permit anyone who pays the membership fee to join. 

For instance,  the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum invited me to become a member. This Forum is only open to those attorneys who achieved a recovery above $2,000,000.00 on behalf of their clients. If an attorney has not met that significant milestone in representing accident victims, they are not permitted membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Membership in merit-based associations like the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, provides good information for you in considering the selection of an attorney.

Legal lectures and publications 

The fact that an attorney is selected to lecture to other attorneys or write articles for lawyer publications can also provide helpful information. It is very flattering for any lawyer’s peers to choose them to speak on legal topics. The attorneys in my office have spoken on various legal issues, and we have been flattered to do so. 

Likewise, we have published articles and various publications, including the New York State Bar Journal, the most widely distributed legal publication in New York. If you evaluate an attorney’s credentials, see whether they have lectured or published before. Don’t hesitate to ask that lawyer about their experience in doing so.

Interview prospective lawyers carefully

Once you have narrowed your search, there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face with any attorney you consider for your case. Do you like this person? If not, leave, because often your first impression of the lawyer (and the lawyer’s first impression of you) is an important one. If you have “bad vibes” right from the beginning, you are probably better off with another attorney. On the other hand, if you like the attorney’s demeanor, that may be a great sign that this is the right attorney. This is probably the best way to find the right attorney for you.

In our next article, you’ll discover what I and the other New York and Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers on my team will do for you if you choose me to handle your case.

You are welcome to contact the Ziff Law Firm now by calling (800) 943-3529 or emailing us at Whether you hire our New York or Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys or not, we will advise you on your options for navigating your injury case. Go ahead and call us today.


Thanks for reading, Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
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Selected for:  Best Lawyers’ ’15, ’17 & 2019 Lawyer of the Year