For victims of sexual abuse, choosing an attorney to represent you is a challenging and often stress-inducing choice. Because it is a critical, life-changing decision to seek justice from the institution or person responsible for molesting you, choosing the right attorney is of paramount importance. Therefore, after closely looking at my website, I urge you to do the same with other attorneys’ websites you may be considering hiring and to speak with us, whether by phone or in person.
First and foremost you need to decide whether the attorney has the necessary experience, understanding and dedication to the child sexual abuse issues that your case demands. One way to go about doing this is to ask whether the lawyer or firm focuses its efforts primarily on child sexual abuse cases or whether child sexual abuse is just one of a long laundry list of personal injury or other kinds of cases the lawyer or firm may handle. Although this issue may not be important to everyone, and although some law firms may have websites that reflect a degree of focus that exceeds their actual practice, some clients find that a high degree of focus is a very important consideration.
Separate and apart from focus, it is also appropriate to ask about the actual level of knowledge and experience in child sexual abuse cases a lawyer or firm may have. For example, , does the lawyer list any articles he or she has written for professional journals, newspapers or on-line media sites concerning sexual molestation? Does the lawyer give speeches to professional organizations on topics related to sexual abuse? Has the attorney’s opinion on sexual abuse issues been sought by print and electronic media? For example, has the lawyer appeared on any national news shows discussing abuse. If such information is missing from a lawyer’s or firm’s website, a potential client can do a simple Google search or ask for the information.
Another matter is how many child sexual abuse cases has the lawyer or firm actually tried from beginning to end? While the vast majority of sexual abuse cases against churches, schools and youth organizations settle before trial, it is important to know whether the attorney you are considering has experience in actually trying sexual abuse cases if that becomes necessary or if an institution wants to make a lowball or “nuisance” offer because of what it perceives as the lack of hands-on experience of the plaintiff’s lawyer. And because your case could end up being one of the few that go to trial, you will want to know in advance whether the lawyer you are considering has been there and done that—hopefully multiple times.
But don’t stop there. After you have done all of your Internet homework, call one or more attorneys and make an appointment to see or speak to them. Use these conversations to ask the lawyer specific questions that are most important to you. Only you can determine if a particular lawyer is the person that you truly want to stand beside you as you seek justice.