03 Oct 23

How to Check if a Philadelphia Lawyer Has Trial Experience

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Last Updated on: 10th October 2023, 06:26 pm

How to Check if a Philadelphia Lawyer Has Trial Experience

Looking for a lawyer to handle your case in Philadelphia? One of the most important things to consider is whether the lawyer has experience actually trying cases in court. After all, not all lawyers have litigation and trial experience. Here’s how you can research a Philadelphia lawyer’s background to find out if they have expertise in the courtroom.

Check the lawyer’s website and online profiles

The easiest starting point is to check out the lawyer’s own website and profiles on sites like Avvo or Martindale-Hubbell. Look for mentions of:

  • Years of experience as a trial lawyer
  • Types of cases they have tried – criminal, personal injury, etc.
  • Win/loss rate if disclosed
  • Representative cases that went to trial

Of course, take this info with a grain of salt. The lawyer will naturally put their best face forward. But it can give you an initial sense of their courtroom experience.

Search online legal databases

There are a few free online databases you can search to find specific cases a lawyer has worked on. These include:

You can search these sites by attorney name to pull up cases they were involved in. Look for cases that actually went to trial vs. those settled out of court. This can demonstrate their litigation experience. Checking case outcomes can also give insight into their trial skills and win rate.

Call your state or local bar association

Most state bar associations have an attorney directory you can call. For Pennsylvania, contact the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court at 717-231-3380. Explain you are researching a lawyer’s background and ask:

  • Year admitted to the bar
  • Practice areas and specialties
  • Disciplinary history – complaints or sanctions
  • Malpractice history – has the lawyer been sued for malpractice

This info can help you gauge their overall experience level in trying cases. Just keep in mind that disciplinary records are not always definitive. Some complaints are frivolous. Focus on patterns vs. isolated incidents.

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Schedule a consultation

There’s no better way to get a sense of a lawyer’s trial skills than to talk with them directly. Most offer free initial consultations. Come prepared with questions like:

  • How many jury trials have you handled in Philadelphia courts?
  • What is your win/loss rate?
  • What types of cases have you tried locally?
  • Will you be the lead trial attorney if my case goes to court?

Pay attention not just to their answers but to their communication style, rapport, and ability to explain legal concepts clearly. This will give you a feel for how they might perform during a high-stakes trial.

Ask for references

Don’t hesitate to request references from past clients who had cases go to trial. Speaking directly to someone who worked with the lawyer in court can provide invaluable insights. Key questions to ask include:

  • How well did the lawyer communicate and explain legal strategy?
  • Were you satisfied with how they handled the trial?
  • Did they take time to prepare you to testify as a witness?
  • Would you recommend them to someone else needing trial representation?

If the lawyer is hesitant to provide references, that could be a red flag. The best trial lawyers will have happy clients willing to vouch for them.

Research their education and credentials

Part of evaluating a trial lawyer is looking into their training and credentials, including:

  • Law school attended – more prestigious programs often indicate stronger trial advocacy training
  • Post-law school trial advocacy certifications
  • Memberships in trial lawyer organizations – American Board of Trial Advocates, American College of Trial Lawyers, etc.

You want to look for lawyers who pursued additional trial skills education beyond law school. This shows a dedication to courtroom litigation.

Observe the lawyer in court if possible

The gold standard is evaluating a lawyer’s trial skills firsthand. Check the Philadelphia court calendar to see if the lawyer has any upcoming cases scheduled for a hearing or trial. Better yet, watch a full trial proceeding if you are able. This will give you the best sense of how the lawyer handles witnesses, argues to the judge, and connects with juries during trial. Look for superior communication skills, preparation, adaptability, and comfort level in the courtroom.

Trust your gut

Even with all the research in the world, your personal instincts still matter. After talking to the lawyer, did you feel confident and at ease? Were you impressed by their presence and authenticity? The intangibles matter too.

Finding the right trial lawyer for your case involves diligence and patience. But taking the time up front is well worth it to ensure you have the right legal fighter in your corner. With a combination of research strategies and old-fashioned gut checks, you can identify Philadelphia attorneys who have the skills and experience needed to take your case to trial if necessary. Just stay persistent and don’t settle for less when your rights are on the line.