There are 25,000 lawyers in the State of Washington, about 2,500 of them practice in the area of personal injury law. So how do you know if you’ve hired a good lawyer? You could ask him, but chances are he’s going to say “I’m one of the best.”
Alternatively, you can look on the internet at lawyer ranking and rating systems. Now the gold standard is the American College of Trial Lawyers. The American College of Trial Lawyers is an exclusive organization that limits its membership to lawyers with high ethical standards and who have a proven track record of trying and winning cases that cannot be settled. In the State of Washington they have a membership of 150 fellows, and about 50 of them practice in the area of personal injury law. So you have limited this down from 2500 to 50 lawyers. Now, you have to take what I say with a certain grain of salt because I’m one of the 50.
Now one of the oldest ranking systems is the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. That’s a 14 volume set. They attempt to rank every lawyer and law firm in the United States. They use the system “A,” “B,” “C” and “Unranked” and just like in school, “A” is the highest ranking. They also give a “V” for a “very high ethical standards”. So throughout the State of Washington there are hundreds of lawyers with an AV rating, and there’s really no reason to hire a lawyer with a C or even a B rating. Now at Brett Murphy we are proud of the fact that we have a Martindale rating of “AV”. You can find Martindale-Hubbell on the internet at Martindale.com.
Now the most popular rating system is the annual publication of Washington Law and Politics Magazine. It’s an informal survey, it’s an unscientific survey, it’s really a popularity contest among lawyers, but they publish a list they call Super Lawyers which includes the top 5% in the state, and again at Brett Murphy both Dean Brett and John Murphy are rated as Super Lawyers.
Then there are commercial rating sites, and the commercial site that has the most respect is probably Avvo.com, that’s A-V-V-O.com. They have their own internal proprietary system of ranking lawyers. They rate lawyers on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest. It’s a commercial site so they do have advertisements, but you can ignore the advertisements, and they give a lot of data; at Brett Murphy, Dean Brett, John Murphy, and Bill Coats have a perfect Avvo score of 10.
Now there’s also what I might call “negative rating sites.“ You can look on the Washington State Bar Association to find out if there has ever been any disciplinary action taken against a lawyer. It’s probably good to avoid lawyers who’ve had disciplinary action. At Brett Murphy we have a combined experience of about 200 years, and none of the lawyers have ever had a Washington State Bar Association ethical violation. In fact, John Murphy was appointed by the Bar Association to be chairman of one of the committees that reviews ethical conduct of lawyers. So rather than asking a lawyer “How good are you?” You can look up internet ranking and rating services:
You can check under Martindale.com; is it an “AV” rated lawyer?
You can check Washington Law and Politics; is it a Super Lawyer?
You look on Avvo.com; do they have a perfect 10 score?
If you have a significant enough case you can look to see if the person is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
To contact a personal injury attorney at Brett Murphy, please call 1-800-925-1875 or complete a confidential contact form.