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If you've been charged with a DUI or DWI, you know that having top-notch legal representation could mean the difference between probation and jail time.
But, given the sensitive nature of the offense, you probably don't want to ask for lawyer recommendations from your friends or on social media. Fortunately, there are several services that can connect you with a DUI lawyer near you - or near the location where the charges were filed, if needed.
Friday, February 26th
Lawyers is part of the Martindale-Hubbell brand family, which has published lawyer and law firm directories for over 150 years. The goal of the Lawyers site is to inform and empower people who are facing legal challenges, including DUI/DWI charges.
Although this site has a relationship with a similarly-named service in our review (Attorneys, because both sites show a copyright ownership by MH Sub I, LLC), Lawyers offers a much better experience when looking for a DUI lawyer.
Library of information
First off, the site has an extensive library of legal articles to help you understand the system and the process of responding to your DUI charges. Look for the "Understand Your Issue" link at the top of the site. There's also a feature called "Ask a Lawyer" where anyone with specific questions can get responses from practicing lawyers; you may even find previously-given answers that apply to your situation.
Over 1 million attorneys
Of course, the main reason to consider the Lawyers service is to be connected with a practice near you, and this site's search tool definitely accomplishes that. With over one million attorneys in their database, that covers 95% of all practicing lawyers in the US. Once you've entered DUI/DWI as your legal issue and your zip code, you'll get a list of lawyers near you. When we searched a zip code for a suburb in a mid-size metro area, our results included two dozen attorneys to choose from.
We really like how easy it is to get right to the important details about each matched attorney or law firm. In your results list, you'll see client ratings, their Avvo rating (yes, the Martindale family includes that site as well), any peer ratings, as well as any awards earned by the attorneys. You can also see taglines that might encourage you to choose one lawyer over another - maybe you need a firm that answers calls 24/7, or that offers a payment plan. Don't overlook the filters too, especially if you live in an area with dozens (or hundreds!) of DUI lawyers - they'll let you narrow down the options by their reviews, whether or not they offer video calls, and so on.
Detailed lawyer reviews
And, of course, you get much more information when you select a lawyer profile that interests you. See detailed reviews, learn more about the attorneys at the firm, determine what kinds of payment are accepted, and more.
Finding a good DUI lawyer doesn't have to be difficult or scary. Lawyers takes out the guesswork and gives you a wide range of attorneys to choose from, at no cost to you. Because Lawyers is so comprehensive and easy to use, it earns our highest rating among DUI lawyer referral services.
Justia is on a mission to "advance the availability of legal resources for the benefit of society". Their site offers free case law, regulations, codes, legal articles and more, to make primary legal materials free and simple to find. Similar to many lawyer referral services, Justia also includes a complimentary "Ask a Lawyer" feature where you can get answers to some of your DUI/DWI-related questions and browse answers from other users of the site.
Long list of lawyers
We were pleased with the long list of DUI lawyers in our area that Justia provided. Those results were easily sorted by the lawyer rating, years of experience, fees, languages spoken, whether or not they offer video chat, and the overall strength of their profile.
Actual case results
You may notice that there's a lot more detail on the sponsored and/or premium listings at the top of your results list. We liked being able to see actual case results for some of those attorneys. All listings give a good overview of each attorney, from their areas of specialization to where they went to law school. There's also two handy features, Compare and Save, to make it easier to narrow down your choices and keep track of any DUI/DWI attorneys that seem like a good fit.
Justia gives us some cause for concern with respect to their reputation. They earn a "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau; this less-than-perfect grade seems to stem from lawyer complaints. Their comments say that they've had problems getting themselves removed from the service and other issues. If attorneys want to be removed from the database but can't, what does that say about the results you'll get? It sounds like it could be a time-waster if those legal professionals are no longer in business in your area.
Still, at the end of the day, that's mostly a problem for the attorneys, not for you. Justia still provides an easy-to-use service, with plenty of results and a display that can help you cut to the chase and find a DUI lawyer that you want to hire. It comes short of receiving our highest recommendation, but Justia is still a dependable option if you're looking for representation in your DUI/DWI case.
Started in Seattle by a tech-savvy lawyer who wanted to make it easier for people to get legal advice, Avvo is part of the Martindale brand family (like several other services we evaluated). Their site includes nearly 15 million searchable legal questions and answers through their free "Ask a Lawyer" feature, so if you have a question about your DUI/DWI you can get preliminary answers from experienced attorneys within hours.
Fewer search results
Avvo returned a much smaller results list when we looked for DUI attorneys in our targeted suburban area. There were only three in our zip code, plus two additional "sponsored results" from our greater metro area. While we really like the way Avvo displays results - letting you filter lawyers by their reviews, how long they've been licensed, and so on - that doesn't do much good when there are only a few to choose from. That surprised us, given that Avvo says that 97% of practicing attorneys in the nation are rated on their site.
On a more positive note, Avvo does a great job of letting you see some of the most important details about each attorney right from the results list. Not only are they reviewed by past clients, but they also have a rating from Avvo itself. These ratings come from Avvo's calculations of the lawyer's experience and education, any endorsements or awards from within the legal community, and any disciplinary action taken against them.
Handy save feature
There's also a handy save feature where you can keep track of the DUI attorneys you'd like to consider further. Finally, for the listings that are sponsored by the lawyer or law firm (marked as "Ad" and featured at the top of the results list), you've got quick links for their website, for sending a message or giving them a call, and if they're providing virtual consultations for situations where in-person meetings aren't feasible.
Room to improve
In general, the Avvo site is one of the easiest to use, and you'll be able to browse informative, detailed profiles of any DUI lawyer serving your area. But, because this service turned up significantly fewer attorneys near our target zip code - despite being within miles of a major metro area's downtown - we can only give Avvo a slightly-above-average rating.
FindLaw got its start in 1996 as an online provider of legal information for individuals and small businesses. The site has more than 11 million visitors every month who are searching for attorneys, legal information, and help with understanding the particulars of their situations.
Filter your results
Once you enter your legal situation (in this case, DWI/DUI) and your city, zip code or county, click the orange Find Your Lawyer button. FindLaw came up with a solid list of DUI lawyers in our area - but we noticed that, even though the results had our targeted suburb at the top, most of the attorneys were from the greater metro area. Some of those attorneys were located more than an hour from the zip code we entered. The list can be filtered by distance, which you may want to use if you get similar results. You can also sort the attorneys by whether or not they have reviews, spoken languages, and a few other criteria.
Lack of details
We didn't get as many details on the results page as we found with many of FindLaw's competitors. Many of the attorneys and firms had no reviews - even though those same offices came up with plenty of reviews on other lawyer referral sites. That makes us wonder if FindLaw can compete with services that have more attorneys in their databases. Also, for the entries that aren't paid ads, you won't be able to see anything about the attorney - years of experience, availability, and so on - without clicking on each profile.
Within the lawyer profiles, you'll see further information that can help you make a decision who to hire. Most of it is fairly standard: areas of practice, office locations, individual profiles for attorneys in the firm, and so on. One novel feature is the Published section, where you can click on links to any articles that the lawyers/firm have written. However, when we did this for one of the recommended DUI lawyers, all of the articles were related to divorce, bankruptcy and immigration - so you may need to determine just how "expert" any given lawyer is with respect to DWI/DUI cases.
FindLaw does a good job of giving you DUI attorneys to choose from, and the site is simple to navigate. However, they don't give as much information as our higher-rated lawyer referral services, and we're not sure how many attorneys are actually in their database. This is a decent way to find a DUI lawyer, but the user experience is better on the higher-rated sites in our review.
Attorneys is a service of Martindale-Nolo, which has been matching clients with attorneys for over a century. With more than 50,000 lawyer matches every month, this service can be counted on to provide you with a DUI/DWI attorney to help with your case.
To get started, you'll enter your zip code and answer some basic questions: whether or not you have pending DUI charges, the zip code where the incident happened, whether or not you have prior alcohol-related offenses, type of alcohol test performed (if any), and then you can type in any other details that would be helpful for a lawyer considering your case. This could include upcoming court dates, additional information about the circumstances, and so on.
You'll be contacted
On the final page, you provide your name, email address and phone number so that the team at Martindale-Nolo and up to five other network attorneys can reach out to you about your DUI case. Most users of Attorneys say that you can expect to hear from a lawyer within a day, but you're at the mercy of Martindale-Nolo's process of passing your details along to their partner attorneys.
This isn't as useful as the DUI lawyer services that let you browse attorneys on your own. On many similar sites, entering your location gives you a list of lawyers in your area, along with client reviews and other detailed information - and usually far more than just the five or six you get with this service.
Protect my information
Also, we weren't very reassured by the fact that the Attorneys site didn't have a secure URL. In other words, when we were entering sensitive information about our case, there was no way of ensuring that the data was being protected during transmission.
Better choices available
For all of these reasons, Attorneys winds up at the bottom of our rankings among services that connect you with DUI lawyers near you. You'll get more direct results using one of the higher-rated lawyer referral services in our review.
These referral services allow you to have your case considered by more than one law firm, so that you can choose the attorney that feels like the best fit to represent you. Sometimes you can also read reviews from previous clients and see how the attorneys rank compared with others in your area.
Hiring the right DUI lawyer quickly is essential to building your case and getting the best defense lined up before your court date. However, not all lawyer referral services work the same. Do you want to wait for an undetermined length of time, hoping that an attorney will take your case, or would you rather reach out directly to several pre-screened legal firms?
As you choose the best DUI/DWI lawyer for your case, here are several factors to bear in mind when using a lawyer locator service:
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