If you need a personal injury lawyer, it pays to be an educated consumer. Today, the public is inundated with commercials of personal injury lawyers. It may surprise you, however, that some of the lawyers who do the most advertising in Illinois are not even licensed to practice in Illinois. Yes, that lawyer may be all over TV, radio, and billboards, but one place you will not likely see him is an Illinois courtroom. If you have an 85-inch tv, you might be able to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad. There are many good lawyers who do advertise and certainly to practice in Illinois, so this does not apply to all lawyers who advertise. So, what happens when you hire an out-of-state lawyer? They may have a lawyer associated with the firm who practices in Illinois, or they may simply refer the case to an Illinois lawyer for a referral fee. Before hiring a lawyer, do yourself a favor and take a minute to visit the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) website. The address is iardc.org. You can search for a lawyer by name, and you will learn four important things: (1) Whether the lawyer is licensed in Illinois, (2) how long the lawyer has been licensed, (3) whether the lawyer has ever been disbarred or suspended from practice, and (4) whether the lawyer is insured. This is just a start, but most people never do this. The length of time a lawyer has been licensed tells you a little bit about their experience. If the lawyer has a history of disciplinary problems, this is something you will want to consider before hiring. The reason you want to know if a lawyer is insured is that a responsible personal injury lawyer is going to carry legal malpractice insurance. While we all hope to never make a mistake, if it ever does happen, we want our clients to be covered. You should check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the firm is accredited and whether they have had any complaints. If the lawyer passes these background checks, you still do not have enough information to know if the lawyer is right for your case. You must find out whether the lawyer has jury experience. A personal injury lawyer without successful jury trial experience is like hiring a surgeon who is afraid to use a scalpel. A lawyer who will not or cannot take a case to trial is at the mercy of the insurance company. Many cases settle, but they settle for the most money when the lawyer has experience trying cases. Jury verdicts are published. I am always happy to send anyone a copy of my published jury verdict reports. Make sure that the lawyer you speak to will be the lawyer that actually handles your case. And lastly, ask if the lawyer is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA). Most serious injury and malpractice attorneys will belong to this organization for good reasons–they are an invaluable resource for plaintiffs’ attorneys and their clients. If you have an injury, nursing home case or employment discrimination case, I hope you will consider calling me at (630)-892-8109. If not, I hope you will follow the above advice to make sure you find an ethical lawyer licensed in Illinois.

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