Serving The Greater Rochester Area

The Best Lawyer In Rochester, New York

One of the questions I get in passing is, who is the best lawyer in town? I used to try to answer this question. I have thought a lot about that question and it interests me because I am different in both personality and practice style from a lot of the lawyers that I respect and admire. The best advice I ever got about being a lawyer is from one of those people I respect, Kitty Karle. She always says, you have to be yourself, or you’re just a cheap imitation of someone else. I challenge you to find a truer or wiser statement.

Who is the best lawyer is like who is the best artist? Who is the best rock band? Who is the best baseball player? We all know there are great artists, and musicians, and athletes. You may have favorites, but "best", that’s subjective.

The right question, the question that you should ask, is, “Who is the RIGHT lawyer?” You don’t want Picasso to paint the exterior of your house. You don’t want Miley Cyrus to play your one year old’s birthday party. You don’t want Mickey Mantle pitching in the bottom of the 9th. That’s obvious. But think about it, who is the best artist ever? Who is the best quarterback? Point – there probably isn’t a best lawyer.

We have all watched the lawyers on TV. They are darn impressive. So smooth, so witty. And they always win. Turns out those people aren’t real.

What to look for in real life:

  1. Exceptional Experience – experience is a tough one. Everyone wants to say they have a lot of experience, and they probably do. But I would rather have a lawyer that has kicked ass for the past three years than one that has sucked for the past 50. Experience matters, but it’s much more about specific experiences that are relevant to the precise situation you are facing than number of years meeting the minimum standard allowable by law. It’s a tough one to judge accurately.
  2. Personality – if you don’t like them, don’t hire them. Your situation is going to get harder before it gets easier. You are supposed to be a team and if you don’t get along now, it’s going to be bad.
  3. Effort – the great equalizer. Give me effort over talent every day. The challenge is knowing how to judge it. Nobody is going to tell you they give it C or D level effort. One good question is how many cases to you handle at a time. It’s hard to give A level effort if you have too many cases, but that’s not the end all be all. If they call or email you after 5PM or on a weekend, it’s a good sign.
  4. What they are great at – is the lawyer a shark on trial. That may be great, but only if a trial is required. Some cases are all about legal research or negotiation. The greatest trial lawyer isn’t as valuable if it’s unlikely there will be a trial. Maybe they are a great researcher and writer, which may be important if there is a nuanced legal issue, but less valuable if it is an old fashioned he said – she said. The question is do their best skills match what you need. This can be tough to know at the outset. I would want a lawyer that can win from investigation, through the legal maneuvering stages and at trial. The best lawyers can do everything. Biggest caution – don’t be overly impressed by trial wins (be impressed, but not overly impressed, and the reason is different than you think – regularly winning at trial means they prepare hard and like to compete) less than 5% of cases go to trial.
  5. What cases have they handled like this one ... and what was the outcome. – Best case scenario there was a very similar case with a great outcome. That shows relevant experience, not a guaranteed result.
  6. Competitive Spirit – the best lawyers have an incredible drive to compete, and win. They may be loud, they may be reserved, but they must compete, every single day. I think a lot of great lawyers have competed their entire lives, whether it was in athletics, car racing, horseback riding, dance competition or anything else. In my opinion growing up in the country or having at least three siblings ingrains a competitive spirit for any human and also qualifies.
  7. Results – this is the easiest one. What have they done in the past. I don’t mean one case. Every lawyer has won a case here and there. Even the blind squirrel finds a nut. I like to know what you have done in the last five years. Every case if possible. How many cases have they handled and how many people got convicted. How many serious felony cases have they handled and how many people went to jail. How many trials have they actually won? How did they win them? If they don’t know their success rate, types of cases they are good at and general statistics it’s not a good sign. Winning takes a lot of hard work, preparation, creativity and shows the will to win. Law is ultimate results based industry. Past results don’t guarantee future outcomes, but a lack of success in the past might be a clue about your outcome in this case.

I wrote this because I want clients that are a good fit for me. I want to be a lawyer that is a good fit for my clients' needs. Finding a good match can be easy or hard. Your lawyer might be the first one you call or the 10th. These are seven things I would consider if I were hiring a lawyer. I hope you find a lawyer that’s a good fit for your case.

If you are looking for a lawyer I would be happy to talk to you. I am proud of the work that we do. I am proud of how we do it. Most of all, I am proud of the results we have achieved.