For the next few posts I’m going to be taking a name out of the headlines and walking through what I think is a great way to review an attorney. If I needed an attorney and had a name in mind, this is most likely how I would go about it. Since I’ve personally worked in the industry for a while I can share a few secrets with you that will hopefully help you with your search.
Most of us probably all know who Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is and his recent legal troubles. His attorney is Karen Winckler from the firm Wright Stanish and Winckler, in Las Vegas, NV. If I was a boxing aficionado and fell in to some legal trouble, perhaps I would want Karen to represent me as well. Hopefully with the knowledge that you have you would do some due diligence and validate her as being an ethical and quality attorney first.
So, what is the process that you should follow? First, I would probably Google her name. When I did that the first 2 results were from the website Lawyers.com. The third was from Justia and then it lists some news articles and then other random websites.
Let’s take a look at what Lawyers.com has to say. You click on the link and it goes to her profile. There are a couple of items to look at to help you with making the best decision for yourself. The first is the profile itself. Make sure that the attorney’s main area of practice is in the same area as what you need. Attorney’s can represent multiple areas of practice. You really don’t want a bankruptcy attorney handling your criminal case. Secondly, there is a box to the right that contains both client reviews and peer rating reviews. This is where I share some secrets with you.
The peer reviews ratings are basically ratings of attorney provided by other attorneys, that are supposed to have intimate knowledge of that person’s ability and ethical standing. From what attorneys tell us, this is often just a popularity contest and if you’ve been around a long time and have lots of friends to solicit good reviews from, you’ll have a high rating. Take it for what it is, I just don’t think it should be the one thing that you use to decide if this is a good attorney or not. I know for a fact that there are really bad attorneys out there that have a perfect 5.0 rating. For the sake of this post, we’ll use it as part of our decision making process. Karen’s rating is a 4.4. Lawyers.com also provides client reviews but Karen doesn’t have a client rating. Let’s take a look at the firm though to see their rating. You should always take a look at the entire firm because you will definitely deal with them at some point also. Richard Wright has a peer review rating of 5.0 but a client review rating of 3.0. There is a bit of a discrepancy there. Let’s look deeper at that. The biggest complaint is lack of communication. The bad part though is that there is only one client review listed and I certainly don’t think that is a very good sample size to make any judgment about Richard. Overall the firm looks pretty good.
Let’s turn our attention back to Google for some help. The third post is from Justia but there is nothing there that tells us anything. That’s pretty common with that website. Looking through the rest of the page one results there is something that caught my eye. It looks like Karen Winckler also represented Dennis Rodman and his DUI case a few years back. That’s interesting and leads me to believe that perhaps she’s the criminal attorney to the stars of the sporting world. I imagine she’s very busy, especially in Las Vegas.
I would then put her name through the www.Attorneyguide.com ethical check and after doing that there is no indication that she is ethical or not. We’ll make sure she gets that updated right away.
If at this point you still wanted to hire Karen or the firm to help you with your criminal case then I would recommend you reach out to your friends and see if anyone else knows anything about them. Lastly I would pick up the phone and interview the firm. Have some questions on hand and ask them how they operate. Ask them about how quickly they get back to you, how they follow up, how they communicate, etc. You’ll be dealing with the front desk people most likely 75% of the time. Remember that your legal situation, especially a criminal case, is nothing to take lightly and hiring the right attorney can make or break your entire experience. The whole process of doing some research on an attorney literally took me about 10 minutes. Don’t you think it’s worth it?
This is probably the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. A guy from New York goes to Las Vegas, gets a hooker, paid for an hour of her services and then she leaves after a half hour. He’s left “unsatisfied” so he first complains to the LVPD which tells him to go to the Better Business Bureau unless he wants to get thrown in jail for prostitution. He’s now filing a law suit against the escort service. You will have to actually read this article to believe it. I learned a few things that I really had no interest in ever knowing. First, what the going rate for a prostitute is in Las Vegas. Second, that the Las Vegas Police department refers people to the Better Business Bureau for things like this instead of just shooting him on the spot. Third, that 1.8 million dollars is the amount that it takes someone to get over a traumatic event like this. He did file the suit without a lawyer so this begs the question, is there any attorney on earth that would take this case? The sad answer I’m sure is “yes” but for the sake of humanity let’s hope not. I’ll keep you posted if I hear any more. Here’s the link to the whole article:
I thought the best way to talk about ethics and what it means is to look at a particular attorney and see how they are portrayed on the internet and then how they are portrayed by the State Bar and their ethical standards.
First, when you Google Randolph Goldberg’s name, you get some very interesting results:
The first result is from insiderpages.com and he has a 5 star rating. The description reads like this:
“We had a legitimate need to declare bankruptcy in 2004, and Randy got us through it. Yes, he’s very smoothe and talks very fast, but he makes sure you understand everything that’s going on, what you need to go, what’s next, and when. He’s very comforting, he answers the phone and returns your call when you need him, and in short makes the entire process FAR less stressful than it otherwise would be. We’re using him again to get rid of the second mortgage on the house we lost to foreclosure. Randy is so good, we wouldn’t even have dreamed of going to anyone else.”
Further down there are the Citysearch results and he has a 4.75 rating out of 33 reviews. Just by reading these you would think that this is the best attorney in town. You probably wouldn’t hesitate to do any additional research, and that’s where you would get in trouble.
Jane Ann Morrison from the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that for the 2nd time, Randolph Goldberg has been sanctioned by US Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Markell. He is referring the case to the US Attorney for possible criminal prosecution on forgery allegations. I encourage you to read the rest of the article in which Jane Ann shares an interesting experience that a couple had with Mr. Goldberg’s office. http://www.lvrj.com/news/couple-have-a-cautionary-tale-for-anyone-hiring-an-attorney-90920234.html
Additionally, the State Bar has 10 complaints about Mr. Goldberg and they are all being reviewed. Here’s my point. The internet is often deceiving in its representation of an attorney. Often times the reviews on the sites are falsified and the truth is pushed down to the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google where no one ever goes. You would never think that Goldberg is unethical in his dealings based on these reviews. Please do your research when choosing an attorney, visit our site and ask around. This forum will be monitored so that falsified reviews don’t make it on here. I check all the reviews myself and make sure they are legitimate. This will continue to be a resource for the community and I hope it gets used. All the attorneys listed on Attorneyguide.com have been Certified Ethical™ and we’ve checked their background with the State Bar. I can guarantee you that Randolph Goldberg will not make our list.
I have a complicated case. I used to live in Las Vegas but I now live in Los Angeles. I was born in Chicago & my legal problem is the state of Illinois made an error when I was born & its left me without a birth record. What can I do about this & whom is willing to take this Pro Bono?
Luckily I’ve never had to hire an attorney for anything in my personal life (knock on wood) but I’ve had many friends that have and I’ve been around attorneys for the last few years. What I’ve learned is that there are some very bad attorneys out there but there are mostly good ones. “Ethical” is a term used very often in the legal field, most likely more than in any other field, to describe how an attorney operates. Are they ethical? Do they operate ethically? What exactly does that mean? How does that compare to competence? Dictionary.com defines “ethical” as
1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, esp. the standards of a profession: It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise.
The words to focus on out of those definitions are “standards for right conduct”. What exactly defines the standards? All states have a State Bar and they are the “governing” body in which enforces these standards. They have the ability to revoke the license of a lawyer if they don’t operate ethically. The State Bar of Nevada has rules of professional conduct that every attorney must comply with. Here’s the link to read them in greater detail http://www.leg.state.nv.us/courtrules/rpc.html.
I personally think that this is a bit of a gray area because it doesn’t say specifically that the attorney is required to call you back in a certain amount of time or that they’re required to be competent. We’ll discuss this in greater detail in future posts and of course your feedback is always welcome.