Finding the Best DUI Attorney: Is "Best Rated" Really the Best?

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For those skilled in Internet searches and Google rankings, narrowing down your search for the best DUI lawyer can be challenging. Pushing past puffery, fake lawyer ratings and deceptive descriptions means that Web surfer must be patient, and drill down to find which DUI attorneys have the very best REAL credentials and client reviews.

The Internet provides millions of ways to make money. Legal services for criminal defense attorneys are commonly offered through thousands of online sites because many people charged with crimes want anonymity. As far as retaining a best-rated lawyer for DUI, this sub-specialty of criminal law is the most competitive niche practice areas in the American legal justice system.

attorney ratings are difficult to discern from real ratings, that come from peer-reviewed sources. Making a decision from a flashy web page, or an impressive law office can be a huge mistake because finding the meaningful credentials come in the form of reading trial reports, successful appeals, DUI case histories, and reading many online heart-felt client reviews. Many client letters passionately reveal details, and "ring true" to the reader when he or she thinks about their own case. During the interview process, learn to cross-examine a prospective criminal lawyer, to be very blunt about what you expect. By being direct and laying your cards on the table, you may be able to find the best DUI lawyer for your drunk driving case.

Rating attorneys began with Martindale-Hubbell in 1868. No other company was “competition” for Martindale since legal marketing was very rare, and the service considered the task of ranking lawyers to be a tertiary function, with no way (at that time) to monetize their service. Their monopoly lasted over a century since no one "made money" by putting up lawyer ratings.

Martindale, in the late 20th Century, started attributing an “av” rating for the top-rated lawyers in various states and cities. Martindale-Hubbell would NOT advance your rating without hearing from a substantial number of proven leaders in the State Bar of your location. More recently, the legal services giant began posting enhancements and characterizations of lawyer ratings (e.g., preeminent and 5.0 of 5.0). Such refinement has enabled the original rating system to begin to compete with new, upstart companies. This ranking system was vetted, and very tough to "game." The highest rankings are considered to be rare, and very accurate, in identifying the very best attorneys in America.

The Internet has spawned numerous pay-for-play attorney rating services. Instead of researching lawyers and their reputations, many have simply bought a mailing list for active members of the Bar, and solicited the attorneys' money, for a badge.

Dozens of these impressive-sounding businesses have been launched in the second decade of the 21st century. In 2017, a person in need of the best attorney can sit at a computer and sort through thousands of pages of Web content, the scrutiny has become intense, and average DUI lawyers or even cheap DUI lawyers have built websites with a wide array of claims and low-cost legal services offers. Forget the Yellow Pages, or asking a trusted friend for a referral. Millions of people resort to their Smartphones, for finding a DUI defense lawyer.

Google and many others started offering search position rankings, following the advent of the Internet. Super Lawyers was started by entrepreneurs, and (after growing) was bought by legal industry giant, Thomson-Reuters. Even with significant commercialization after the acquisition, Super Lawyers is still considered to be the third most selective, peer-reviewed lawyer ratings service in America. Thomson-Reuters wanted to own it, to help cross-sell its other legal services.

Two much smaller organizations, Best Lawyers in America is the most selective of all attorney review services, and then Martindale is the second most selective lawyer review service, and (like Super Lawyers) was bought out by Lexis-Nexis. Getting named to these lists, especially Tier 1 at Best Lawyers, is very difficult to accomplish.

However, all of these businesses must also be distinguished from board certification, which pertains to helping the buying public understand the role of American Bar Association board certification (or state certification, in states like Texas and North Carolina) in enhancing the status of a skilled attorney’s professional credentials. This valuable accolade shows that a lawyer in good standing has voluntarily put himself or herself through a grueling test for advanced-level knowledge, by experts in that particular field of law practice, to prove excellence beyond the range of a good or above average lawyer.
What is Board Certification in the Legal Profession?

The concept for “board certification” was derived from the medical field. Similar to doctors, who can practice medicine in a State, but perhaps need proof of specialization to obtain “privileges” at a local hospital, to conduct surgery or give medical advice, lawyers wanted a higher level of proof of expertise.

So, as with medical doctors, board certification involves putting specialist attorneys through a rigorous, comprehensive written and verbal “approval process,” the conferring of Board Certification provides public information identifying the extremely small number of attorneys with specialized legal services available. Numerous areas of specialization exist, like criminal law, DUI, civil litigation and other fields of law practice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William C. Head, Atlanta DUI Lawyer for 41 years. ABA Board Certified in DUI Defense. Named Best Lawyer in Atlanta 2017 and 2012, Best Lawyers in America. Martindale “av” preeminent for over 20 years.
William C. Head is a criminal defense attorney and personal injury lawyer with 41 years of litigation experience. The Atlanta DUI lawyer has authored or co-authored over a dozen books, and is Board Certified by the ABA in DUI Defense. More than 22 years ago, he started the National College for DUI Defense, and launched national DUI lawyer training for field sobriety tests and breath alcohol testing. The Georgia lawyer has handled over 200 appeals of criminal and civil cases.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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