The Importance of Finding the Right Attorney
"Money For Lunch" is a radio program hosted by Bert Martinez. The show covers topics in business, health, current events and more. Mr. Martinez interviews leaders in various fields to help inspire innovations that will improve our world. Recently, attorney David E. Rapoport of Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., appeared on the program to discuss, among other things, attorney advertising and the problems the public faces in finding reliable, qualified members of the legal profession. Mr. Rapoport has long been an advocate for establishing reliable methods for the public to verify which attorneys are qualified to handle their concerns.
Attorney Advertising in the 'Wild West'
Ethics rules bar attorneys from engaging in false or misleading advertising. That said, given the explosion of legal advertising in recent years, it is impossible for most states to enforce those rules thoroughly. Attorneys who exaggerate their qualifications face little threat of being disciplined. The lack of enforcement makes it difficult for the public to find an attorney with real experience in the relevant field of inquiry.
Trial Experience and Obtaining Fair Compensation
What messages would convey to the public that an attorney is truly qualified to handle a case? If an attorney listed a string of substantial settlements, would that indicate high-quality work? Part of the problem is that the legal system is not well understood. A $3 million settlement may conjure images of wealth and ease in a healthy person, but the value of that settlement must be weighed against a life of pain, loss and medical bills. The amount of a settlement is meaningful only if you understand the victim's losses.
One key element to obtaining proper compensation is the willingness and ability to go to trial. Insurance companies are well aware of which attorneys always settle and which have real trial experience. Insurance companies have no motivation to pay full compensation if they know the attorney will eventually accept a settlement. Without trial experience, your attorney may be unable to get the money you will need to move forward following an accident.
The Role of Board Certification in Addressing Legal Advertising Deficiencies
Legal board certification provides a reliable means for people to find an attorney with the specialized knowledge they need. At present, 15 states issue board certifications. In addition, the American Bar Association allows seven nonprofit organizations to provide board certifications. These organizations require attorneys to take written exams, beyond the standard bar examination, to demonstrate their knowledge in specific fields of specialty. In addition, board certifications use input from judges and lawyers to find only those attorneys who have real practice experience in their areas of specialty. The rigor and effort that go into these certifications separate truly qualified practitioners from those merely claiming to be knowledgeable.
Roughly 3 percent of lawyers are board-certified in one or more specialties. Compare that with the medical field, where more than 80 percent of physicians obtain board certifications. The general public understands that choosing a surgeon who is not board-certified is ill-advised. That same understanding in the legal field could help countless people find competent, experienced and honest lawyers to protect their rights.
The National Board of Trial Advocacy
David Rapoport carries three board certifications. He is president of the largest national board certifier in the United States, the National Board of Trial Advocacy. The NBTA offers certification in civil trial law, criminal trial law, family trial law and Social Security Disability trial law. Mr. Rapoport understands that the legal profession benefits when the public is better served and informed about attorney qualifications. He is committed to informing and educating people to help them find attorneys who meet the highest standards of competence and integrity.
To listen to the full interview with Mr. Rapoport, click here.