There are a variety of independent legal referral websites that provide attorney ratings. Some also provide an attorney's background information, records of disciplinary actions and fee details, states Consumer Reports.
Professional associations by area of legal specialization are another source, such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, which features a "Find An Attorney" link on its website. Each association publishes lists of its members, those with distinctions and their related credentials.
It is helpful to remember that independent legal referral websites are private, for-profit companies, reports the American Bar Association, which raises questions about the objectiveness of their lawyer ratings databases. Each website employs unique criteria by which they determine ratings. Consequently, the same firm or lawyer can simultaneously have high and low ratings on different websites.
Peer Review Rated status represents the highest criterion, states Lawyers.com. Created by Martindale-Hubbell, a resource to help individuals evaluate and buy appropriate legal services, lawyers themselves participate in grading their colleagues on a one to five scale in the areas of legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability and legal experience. Entries for Peer Review Rated lawyers also appear on independent legal referral websites.
The American Bar Association offers state-specific information, such as free legal services, license verification and a guide to court systems, claims Consumer Reports.