Hi, I'm an attorney in California, although I have retired. I am sure Angie's does not allow ratings for attorneys because bad ratings would probably attract lawsuits.
One way to "audition" an attorney is to go to your local courthouse and watch the attorneys in action. "Law and Motion" is a courtroom where attorneys go to settle arguments or to ask the Law and Motion Judge to order parties to do something before they go to trial.
Because it can take several years to get to trial, Law and Motion helps attorneys in their preparation for a trial, and sometimes to force an end to a case. Each party files papers telling the judge what they want and why, or why something shouldn't be allowed. The Judge or his research assistant will read the briefs and check existing case law and then set a date for the lawyers to come in and argue about that one subject.
Most cases take from five to ten minutes to present their arguments and the Judge will listen to a long list of cases in one morning. This is a great opportunity to watch the attorneys in action. You could see more than 50 lawyers there in a period of three or four hours depending on the size of your County. Rural areas will probably have only a few cases every week.
There are usually separate Law and Motion judges for Family Law, Probate, Civil Lawsuits, and Criminal Cases so you can see the attorneys who practice the type of law your situation requires. Law and Motion is usually scheduled on one or two mornings a week, but you can find out by calling or visiting the Administrative Office of your courthouse. You can also ask the Calendar Clerk what is going on that day in other coutrooms. They usually know about any interesting or exciting trials happening that day if you want to watch a trial.
If you attend a session of Law and Motion, say for a divorce, you can get a good idea of how an attorney presents an argument and if you watch closely, you can sometimes get an idea of how a judge and the opposing attorney feels about him or her. It is also a good opportunity to ask their client how they feel about their attorney after they have left the courtroom and the attorney has finished with his or her client. You can also ask the attorneys out in the hallway if they know someone good who can help you with your situation.
If the client has time to talk, ask them about things that are important to you. Does the attorney keep them up to date with the progress of the case? Does he or she or one of his assistants return your phone call within 48 hours? Every day attorneys have to be in court, attend depositions, interview witnesses and are often out of the office. When they are in the office there are briefs that have to be written, research, and meetings with clients. No attorney can return every phone call they receive every day and get any work done and it does annoy a lot of people.
While you are waiting for a trial date, months and years can pass where little or no work may be performed on your case. Some people get annoyed that they don't hear anything for a long time, but they haven't forgotten you. Phoning them every month to ask what is happening every just adds to your bill. When it gets closer to trial, they will be in contact with you more often.
The law prohibits court employees from recommending attorneys to people so you won't get any information from them.
Someone earlier suggested calling your local bar association and use their referral service. It's a good way to get a meeting with an attorney for $20 or $30 (which goes to the referral service) but they do not give you a rating or any information about the attorney's reputation or experience. Any attorney can sign up to be on the referral list. A lot of attorneys on the list may be newer attorneys which is neither good or bad. Many times legal work doesn't require an attorney with thirty-years experience and charging $500 an hour. I know a lot of good lawyers who put their names on referral lists. Every attorney I've ever known will make an appointment or confer with you over the phone and discuss what you need without charging for it.
Who else can you ask?
If I was looking for an attorney to represent me, I would probably start by asking my insurance agent who he or she likes. Insurance agents may have a lot of exposure to attorneys and may be willing to tell you who they would go to. You can also find out if your auto or renter's/homeowners policy covers you if you are being sued.
I would also ask my doctor or dentist if they know some good attorneys. Many health providers have had to deal with attorneys in their business. Anyone who is in business may be to give you a couple of names.
I would call your local newspaper and find the reporter who covers the courthouse. They may be willing to tell you who they think is good if their company allows it. They usually know who is good and who may not be.
If you are looking for a divorce attorney, ask your divorced friends what they think about their attorney. Maybe they will tell you they wished they had the attorney your spouse used.
When you meet with an attorney the first time, talk about all of your concerns. Price is usually a big concern. Depending on the type of case, you might have to pay in full each month, make payments, or if it is a personal injury case, the attorney may take it on contingency -- where the attorney takes a portion of the proceeds when the case is either settled or won at trial. Very few cases actually go to trial anymore because it is very expensive and courts are so overcrowded.
Hourly rates can vary a lot, and you should not judge an attorney simply by how much he or she charges per hour. I know very good attorneys who work out of their homes and will charge you less because their overhead is lower. I know some lawyers I would never use who charge $400 and more per hour. Rates at large law firms can be very high because they have a lot of people to pay and a fancy (and expensive) office to support.
It is almost impossible to tell you how much it will cost if you are party to a lawsuit. The other side can make it very expensive if they want to fight about every little detail.
Many attorneys will charge a flat fee for simple document drafting, name changes, etc.
Most attorneys will put everything in writing for you. If they don't, ask them too. Ask if they take credit cards if you are short of cash.
Laws and courts are a little different from State to State, but hopefully this will help you find a good attorney to represent you.
Lawyer advertising used to be prohibited by most bar associations but you can see it everywhere now. Don't choose an attorney just becausee he or she advertises on TV, bus benches or has a full page ad in the Yellow Pages. There is no way to judge an attorney by what their ads look like. Sometimes they get so much business from TV that your case may not get the attention it deserves. Most attorneys really try to do their best for their clients though.
Good luck! Believe it or not, lawyers are people, too, and most of them became lawyers because they want to help people.
This is just my humble opinion, but hopefully it will serve you well.