Before you hire an attorney, especially when you have the type of case that multiple lawyers would want, you should at minimum check the lawyer out. In other words, interview them, ask for referrals, talk about the case and how they would handle it, etc. You should also go to iardc.org and look the lawyer up. That is the website for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (“ARDC”).
The ARDC is the licensing body for lawyers in Illinois. If you currently are an Illinois attorney or ever were in the past, your name would be found there. The ARDC also conducts investigations of attorneys that are accused of misconduct and recommends discipline for their actions if appropriate.
While the ARDC has a reputation of being too lawyer friendly because it’s run by lawyers, the truth is that every year many attorneys get suspended from practicing or lose their license altogether because they act unethically. So before you hire an attorney it’s a really good idea to see if they have ever gotten in trouble for how they acted.
If you don’t see any record of problems, it doesn’t mean they are ethical. It just means that they’ve never been caught. However, if you do see that they were disciplined, it’s a big red flag that should probably tell you to run away.
Recently a west suburban lawyer was recommended to lose his law license for stealing client money, although he did pay it back. He had been twice suspended before. Had any of the 10+ clients he allegedly stole from known this, they surely would not have hired him in the first place.
One of the reasons people come to us is that part of our process in recommending an attorney includes making sure that there ethical background is clean. We have only ever recommended one attorney that was disciplined by the ARDC and that is because it was many years ago and we are aware of what happened in that situation and it didn’t involve taking money from a client. Beyond that one exception, we would NEVER recommend someone with a bad ethical past. Especially when there are so many outstanding attorneys out there who we know personally and see them get great results for their clients and in an ethical matter.
So this is one reason we exist. To filter out who the bad lawyers are, the good ones and the great ones. If you need help finding out which Illinois lawyer is right for you let us know at any time.