I. General Attorney Directories
Websites are often the best places to find current directory information concerning attorneys, since much of the information that was once located exclusively in print directories is now available online, and searchable across multiple jurisdictions and practice areas at once. Listed below are some of the most useful of these sites.
A. Online Directories
Martindale.com, Find Lawyers and Law Firms: This is the most comprehensive website for locating lawyers and law firms. Although it is not comprehensive, it is fairly inclusive. Its search criteria include firm name, practice area, country, city, state, and languages spoken.
FindLaw Lawyer Directory is another option, though it is not as comprehensive as Martindale-Hubbell. FindLaw receives its directory information from Westlaw's subscriber lists and from lawyers who sign up to be included. With Findlaw, listings are free but lawyers pay to have their names prominently displayed in the search results lists. Search criteria include legal issue, geographic location, firm name, type of case, languages spoken, payment options, and whether free consultations are offered.
Other sites with links to attorney listings include the following:
- American Bar Association's Consumer's Guide to Legal Help allows users to search for for legal advice or representation in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Canada.
Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute "Find a Lawyer": Allows users to browse lawyers by practice area, state, city, and county/parish. Entries for individual lawyers include years of experience, educational history including law school attended, honors awarded, jurisdiction of admission, practice areas, contact information, website, and map.
Hieros Gamos attorney search page: Attorneys and firms are searchable by worldwide geographic region, country, city, and practice area. This site is especially useful for locating attorneys outside the U.S.
Internet Legal Research Group: This site provides an index of U.S. law firms, as well as links to several different law firm rankings, listings, and indices. The ILRG is particularly good for finding listings for top Asian, European, and UK firms.
The Law Society’s "Find a Solicitor" Page: A UK-based, worldwide database of attorneys, searchable by individual or firm name, country, and area of law. Also allows searching of organizations that employ attorneys.
B. Print Directories
Most current lawyer directory information today can be found online, through websites like the ones listed above, but the Goodson Law Library does maintain up-to-date lawyer directories in print as well.
The Best Lawyers in America. 2 vols. Biennial. (Ref. KF190 .N23). A selective list of lawyers recommended for inclusion by other lawyers. The listing is arranged first by specialty and then geographically.
The Best of the Best USA. Annual (Ref. K68 .B477 2013 & online) Provides information on the top thirty legal practitioners in the U.S. in each of thirty-three areas of law, chosen by senior practitioners and in-house counsel involved in each practice area. This resource is also available online, where it is searchable by practice area, city, state, and name.
Law Firms Yellow Book. (online via Leadership Library on the Internet; historical editions in Superseded Reference KF190 .L376). This publication provides a "who's who" list of the management at leading U.S. law firms. Firms are listed alphabetically, and the entries include managing and hiring partners and recruiting coordinators. Information also includes law school attended and year of graduation.
Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Annual. (Ref. KF190.M371 2011 & online). Vols. 1-8 list attorneys by state and city. Contains separate biographical entries for many firms. There is a separate set listing Canadian and international lawyers and a set of law digests for the states and foreign countries. The digest section (not included in the online version) includes information about general laws (e.g. motor vehicle, domestic violence, etc.) in specific states and countries, information on the A.B.A., and the text of many uniform acts.
Who's Who in American Law. Biennial. (Ref. KF190 .W46 2015-2016) Biographical information on approximately 20,000 lawyers and other professionals in law-related fields. There is an index by field of specialization.
C. Attorney Rankings
- Avvo.com: Provides profiles on attorneys in all states, and is searchable by practice area, state, and city. Results can then be filtered by client reviews, endorsements, conduct, and whether or not they offer free consultations.
- Best Lawyers: Allows users to search lists of peer-recommended lawyers by name, firm, practice area, location, and expertise. Also contains nationwide law firm rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
- Lawyers.com: Search options include location and area of law practiced. Each attorney/firm entry provides client ratings, reviews, and peer ratings, along with areas of practice, website, and location.
- Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from over 70 practice areas who have achieved a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, selected through independent research and peer evaluations. The advanced search option allows searching by state, city, name, firm, practice area, language, and law school.
If you are seeking a lawyer in a specific city, state, or geographic area, the regional or local bar association's website is another good place to start. Most bar associations permit the public to search their attorney listings by name or practice area, and can provide information about whether an attorney has been the subject of any disciplinary actions. In some cases, the bar association has listings of lawyers "certified" in particular areas of law. "Certified" lawyers are generally required to have a certain level of experience or have taken required courses (or a certain number of continuing education credits) in a particular legal specialty. Bar association sites are also useful in searching for an attorney or firm by name.
To locate an attorney through a particular state bar association, visit the ABA Division for Bar Services Bar Association Directories website and choose a state from the map, or go to the Hieros Gamos bar association page. Both sites provide links to state and (some) local bar associations.
Below is a sampling of state-specific attorney directories and attorney-finding resources for four major U.S. jurisdictions—California, New York, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.—that are available on the Internet or at the Goodson Law Library.
State Bar of California Attorney Search: Users can search for attorneys using a number of criteria, including name, firm name, location (which returns a random sample listing of attorneys), certified legal specialty, and languages spoken. Attorney profiles are quite detailed, providing information on practice area, educational history, specialty, status history, actions affecting eligibility to practice law, languages spoken, website, and contact information.
New York State Unified Court System Attorney Search: This website is only searchable by attorney name, so is more useful for finding information on a specific attorney than for browsing numerous attorneys at once.
New York State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service: The service is staffed by counselors who provide legal referrals based on the location and nature of the legal problem at issue (information is kept in confidence). In situations where they cannot offer a lawyer referral, they provide contact information for other lawyer referral services.
North Carolina Legal Directory. Annual. (Ref. Desk KF192 .N67 2014) Arranged by county and city, this index lists attorneys by name and firm name. The index includes a small biographical section and a section on government agencies.
North Carolina State Bar “Find a Lawyer” Website: The State Bar Directory of Licensed Lawyers allows searching by name and city of all lawyers admitted to practice in NC. The Disciplinary Orders Database can be searched by attorney first and last name and includes orders of the State Bar’s Grievance Committee and Disciplinary Hearing Commission, as well as state and federal courts imposing professional discipline. A separate database allows users to search attorneys who have been certified as specialists in various areas of practice.
North Carolina Advocates for Justice Find a Lawyer Directory: Attorney listings on this site can be searched by name, city, county, languages spoken, and primary areas of practice. Attorney profiles include firm information, practice areas, languages spoken, education, certifications, bar admissions, and contact/website information.
DC Bar "Find a Member" allows searching by name only, so is most useful for locating information on a specific attorney.
The Washingtonian’s Best Lawyers Directory profiles nearly 1,000 of Washington's top attorneys in 30 specialized areas of practice.
III. Specialized Areas of Practice (by Specialty)
Many specialized print directories are placing their resources online, providing individuals with more flexible search options and up-to-date information. However, many associations limit access to members only. Below are some of the print and online directories available for specialized fields.
Chambers USA : America's Leading Lawyers for Business. Annual. Based on interviews with attorneys and clients, this guide rates attorneys and firms on a scale of 1-6. Directories can be searched by attorney or firm name, practice area, or location.
- Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business. This guide ranks and provides editorial commentary on law firms and individual attorneys in countries across the world. It is based on interviews with attorneys in more than 160 countries, conducted by a team of researchers over a period of 12 months. Search options include individual attorney name, law firm name, practice area, and country.
- Who Represents Corporate America? The National Law Journal’s annual publication provides information collected from public records about outside counsel representing the Fortune 100 for contracts, labor, torts, and intellectual property litigation.
- Who’s Who Legal: Identifies the foremost legal practitioners in 34 areas of business law, featuring over 16,000 attorneys in more than 100 countries. Attorneys and firms are searchable by name, practice area, and country.
Directory of Corporate Counsel. 2 vols. Annual. (Reserve KF195.C6 D57 2013-2014). Lists over 5,000 companies and includes biographical data on attorneys. Government authorities with business functions listed separately. There are geographic, corporate, and name indexes, along with cross-references between parent company and subsidiaries.
The American Immigration Lawyers’ Association website has an attorney directory that is searchable by location, specialty, location, and languages spoken.
Corporate Counsel’s In-House Counsel Directory provides listings of the "go-to" law firms for the top 500 companies, including in-house law departments as well as firms specializing in litigation, intellectual property, and labor & employment.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site contains an up-to-date directory of patent attorneys. The directory is arranged by state/territory and there are links to foreign and military addresses.
World Trademark Review: Provides listings of the world’s top trademark attorneys based on peer reviews, and covers over 60 jurisdictions. Its Directory Search page allows searching by keyword, firm name, country, and state.
IV. Women and Minority Attorney Listings
Web sites for specialized bar associations for women and minorities include the National Bar Association, founded in 1925 by African-American attorneys, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the National Association of Women Lawyers. While most of these specialized bar sites contain directories, they are accessible only to registered members.
National Association of Minority & Women-Owned Law Firms offers a member search by location, size, practice area, and other criteria.
National Minority Bar Association Directory: Listing compiled by the Washington State Bar of national minority bar associations, many of whose websites could be a useful starting point for locating attorneys.
Most of the web sites listed at the beginning of this guide for finding attorneys and law firms include international listings. Additional print directories are listed below.
Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers. Annual. (Ref. K68.C53 2004-2005 & http://www.chambersandpartners.com/). This guide ranks and provides editorial commentary on law firms and individual in countries across the world. It is based on interviews with attorneys in more than 160 countries, conducted by a team of researchers over a period of 12 months. Search options include individual attorney name, law firm name, and country.
Euromoney Legal Media Group Guides to the World's Leading . . . Lawyers. (Ref. K70 & http://www.expertguides.com). These guides focus on a number of legal specialties with a strong emphasis on commercial/business law areas. They include listings by country, with some entries listing only name, firm and city, but with most entries providing brief biographical information about individual attorneys. The print copies are slightly outdated, but one can update the information online.
Martindale-Hubbell International Law Directory. 2 vols. Annual. (Ref. KF190. M373 2011). Lists attorneys by region, country and city, with separate biographical entries for many firms. The related online resource allows the user to narrow law firms by country, city, and specialty, and provides a brief description of each firm.
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