Nicholas J. Preovolos
CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER
Less than 10 years ago no one would even consider using the internet to find a criminal lawyer in Greater Vancouver. Basically you either knew somebody who referred you to a criminal lawyer or you leafed through the Yellow Pages. Today the internet is probably the go-to source, as consumers are hungry for more information than the typical Yellow Pages ad offers.
Within a matter of minutes, you can find pages and pages of lawyer listings using Google or Bing. When I searched Google and Bing for “criminal lawyer Vancouver” I found no less than 25 different criminal lawyers on the first 10 pages of my search results.
If anything, the problem is the amount of information that is generated. I’m referring not only to the number of lawyers listed but also to the volume of information provided by each lawyer, which ranges from videos and biographical information to case summaries and testimonials. The challenge is sifting through the information to find a criminal lawyer who is right for you.
Here are six simple tips to help you with your internet search.
Tip #1: Narrow Your Search
If you search “criminal lawyer” on Google or Bing, the search results will include the names of criminal lawyers from as far afield as Ontario and New York State. It is therefore necessary to limit your search to a certain region. In Greater Vancouver, I suggest trying “criminal lawyer Vancouver”. I guarantee you will find lawyers who practice everywhere from Abbotstford to Vancouver.
If you like you can narrow your search further by specifying a municipality. For a lawyer in North Vancouver, for example, search “criminal lawyer North Vancouver.” Don’t be surprised, however, if the search results are not that different from the search results for “criminal lawyer Vancouver.” The reality is that Greater Vancouver criminal lawyers usually practice in the entire region and emphasize that fact in their websites and marketing materials. Consequently, the search results for “criminal lawyer Vancouver”, “criminal lawyer Surrey”, “criminal lawyer Abbotsford”, etc. tend to be similar.
In my opinion, the only useful information generated by a narrower search is in the “local business results” part of Google search results and in the “listings near…” part of Bing search results. Interestingly, even then the results are sometimes irrelevant. Recently I searched “criminal lawyer Port Coquitlam” and found that only one of the three entries in “local business results” on page 1 of Google was actually a criminal lawyer in Port Coquitlam, while the only two entries in “listings near Port Coquitlam” in Bing were actually criminal lawyers in Vancouver.
You may also want to specify a type of criminal offence in your search. For example, if you have been charged with assaulting your spouse, try ”spouse assault lawyer Vancouver.” The search results sometimes identify lawyer websites which provide useful information about the offence.
Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Review Pages 2, 3, 4 and Even 10 of Search Results
Don’t assume that criminal lawyers who appear on the first page of Google or Bing search results are superior to criminal lawyers who appear on pages 2, 3 or even 10. Where a criminal lawyer’s name appears in search results does not necessarily correlate to professional competence. Rankings say more about the quality of web design and search engine optimization, neither of which relates to legal skills.
Tip #3: Evaluate Web Content Critically
Look at websites with a critical eye. If you spot spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, consider it a warning sign. Criminal lawyers who do not put their best foot forward with a potential audience of thousands might not be as attentive to the details of your case and to you as they should be. Also beware of excessive bravado on criminal lawyers’ websites. Someone who tells you he is “successful in 90% of his cases” is probably a blowhard if not a bad statistitian.
Conversely criminal lawyers who provide organized and helpful information on their websites might be more compelling advocates in and out of the courtroom. If an informational video is offered, play it! In a minute or less, you’ll basically “meet” the lawyer you are thinking about retaining and get a sense of what he or she will be like in person.
Tip #4: Beware of Directory Websites
If you don’t know what I am referring to, here are some fictitious examples: www.best-drinking-driving-lawyers.com, www.leading-drug-lawyers.com, and www.bc-criminal-lawyers.com. In short, these sites are usually maintained by groups of lawyers or shrewd entrepreneurs to promote certain lawyers and law firms who pay for the privilege of being listed or who share advertising costs. Don’t assume that the lawyers who appear on these sites have been vetted by anyone. Some sites purport to have “screened” their lawyers, but I would be careful about accepting that kind of claim without some concrete information about the screening process.
Tip #5: Prepare a Shortlist
As you review the results of your searches, note the names and web addresses of the criminal lawyers who impress you. Mark down the names of at least one or two criminal lawyers who are located near your home or work and another one or two who are within reasonable driving distance. Go with your gut when preparing your shortlist! If you are impressed with the information on a website, write down the name of the lawyer. If you like the video on a website, mark down the name of the lawyer.
After spending an hour or two reviewing search results and websites, go over what you have and come up with a shortlist of three or four lawyers.
Tip #6: Call the Lawyers on the Shortlist and Arrange Meetings
Alas you cannot do everything online! After finalizing your shortlist, call the lawyers you have selected and talk to each one. Yes, the lawyer, not the office assistant. If they won’t speak to you unless you show up in person at their office, don’t bother with them. Move on to the next person on the list.
Before you speak to any criminal lawyer, in person or by telephone, write down the questions you want to ask so that you don’t forget them. Don’t be shy; ask about anything you like, including fees. If you speak to someone who is stingy with information over the telephone, consider moving on. Sometimes it’s a sign that the lawyer just wants you to come to the office to “close the deal” so to speak.
After speaking to each of the criminal lawyers on your shortlist, you should have a good idea who you want to retain or you should at least have it narrowed down to two individuals. At that point, set up appointments and meet the finalists!