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Finding a Lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago – Has technology made it easier or more confusing for those looking for a lawyer? Using Online Resources and Alternative Ways to Finding the Perfect Lawyer


Looking for a lawyer or finding an attorney can be frustrating without the right help


Introduction


Finding a lawyer can be a daunting task, especially when using online resources. While the internet provides a wealth of information about Attorneys, it can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. The internet itself may not be accessible to all and not everyone is tech-savvy or familiar with online research skills, especially the elderly.  There are also countless websites and directories listing Attorneys-at-law, usually internationally based, that claim to help you find the perfect lawyer, but the sheer volume of information can make it difficult to determine which sources are reliable and trustworthy. This article discusses the impact of technology in Trinidad and Tobago and its effectiveness in helping prospective clients find a lawyer and suggests some traditional alternative, tried-and-tested methods.


Online Resources



Online search results for finding a lawyer looking for an attorney


Lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago have embraced the online world of social media, blogs and personal websites. So too have most consumers. The internet is the place where people do their shopping and their related research.  Lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago are still not allowed to advertise and traditionally a listing in the telephone directory and a nameplate outside the office is still the acceptable form of notification for an Attorney-at-law to the public. 


The internet is arguably the modern-day telephone directory.   An online search will reveal many directories listing lawyers based on location and practice area, but most are internationally based directories and not tailored for the specific needs and circumstances of the individual seeking legal representation. Further, the results that appear after an online search are produced by several factors, generated by algorithms and other website developing factors that are too wide and technical for the average user to comprehend. Law firms or lawyers with the resources can hire IT professionals to promote their content to rank higher in search results. This means that the results of your search do not provide you with the best but those who know how to utilize search engine ranking systems. Your online search results will produce lists of lawyers and websites but are in no way in an order that necessarily matches the needs of the prospective client.  If you perform a search, you will note that some of the most popular and known names in the profession (such as those that you will ordinarily read in the newspapers or hear on the news) appear nowhere.  Rather, you will generally see the same directories and websites repeatedly appear. This is because a computer algorithm is determining the results.

 

Further, online searches narrow your results. Despite the popular view, the result of online searches actually narrow your results by only drawing attention to a few results it deems the most relevant. This is how search engines work, they process a large volume of data on the internet and try to produce the top results they consider the most relevant to a search by means of a number of factors. This means that if you were able to check an actual yellow pages listing for lawyers you would discover more lawyers than if you simply did an online search.  Therefore, unknowingly, an online search is limiting search from the start.

 

Another issue is the lack of personalization from online results.  The choice of a lawyer is a personal decision that some people may find hard to make from a review of online resources and may not have trust and confidence in someone they found online.

 

Another challenge is the lack of transparency. It can be difficult to determine the qualifications and experience of a lawyer based on their online profile. Many lawyers exaggerate their credentials or provide misleading information to attract clients. This can make it difficult for individuals to make an informed decision when choosing a lawyer.

So, what are some alternative ways to find the perfect lawyer? Here are a few suggestions:


1.     Personal Referrals:



looking for a lawyer? Friends can make referrals for the best attorney


One of the best ways to find a lawyer is through personal referrals from friends, family, or colleagues. These individuals can provide firsthand information about their experience with a particular lawyer and can help you determine if a particular Attorney-at-law would be a good fit for your needs. Referrals from persons with actual knowledge of the profession is also a huge asset. There are many people whose jobs bring them into contact with lawyers and allow them to see attorneys perform in court, such as clerks, reporters, secretaries, police officers, ushers at court, just to name a few. These are persons you would know who can offer a personal recommendation of someone appropriate and whose competence they have observed.


2.     Telephone and directory listings



looking for a lawyer? use telephone directories for the best attorneys


Telephone directories still exist but are usually available online. When doing online research, it is worthwhile to look for a complete and comprehensive listing so you know that you are not excluding a large quantity from the start. The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago for example maintains a listing on its website of all Attorneys to whom practicing certificates have been issued.  Although it may not have the website or addresses for the lawyers, as it generally does not make personal endorsements for any given lawyer, one can always search the names to find them. In this way you will ensure that you have not unnecessarily or unknowingly limited your search too early.  This also can help you find a lawyer who specializes in the area of law you need help with and who is not only fit for purpose for your needs but in good standing with the bar. Manual telephone directors are also still in existence if you can find them.


3.            Legal Aid Organizations



looking for a lawyer or need to find an attorney people meeting with legal aid lawyers


If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be eligible for the assignment of free legal assistance from a legal aid organization. These organizations provide legal representation to individuals who cannot afford a private lawyer. In addition to the Legal Aid Authority, the Hugh Wooding Law School in St. Augustine maintains a legal aid clinic. 


4.            Networking and other professional bodies



find the right lawyer at business and professional conferences and networking


There are other organisations that maintain listings of attorneys such as charitable organisations, business chambers and foreign embassies. It should be kept in mind, however, that these may not be complete lists and the criteria for their inclusion should be a matter of concern. However, they are a useful resource to ensure that you widen your search and may provide listings for attorneys without websites.

 

Conclusion


Finding a lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago using solely online resources can be challenging as they limit your results and may not be personalized enough for you to feel confident in your choice, however, there are alternative ways that can be used in conjunction with online resources to help you.  Using telephone directories and comprehensive lists from e.g. from the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago or business chambers listings, helps ensure that your search is not too limited. Speaking to people with direct knowledge and first-hand experience with attorneys can also be an invaluable resource and there are many members of the public with such information.   Finally, keep in mind that there are many lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago and therefore there is no one perfect lawyer or law firm. You should seek a lawyer that you feel comfortable with, can work within your budget and has experience and knowledge in the field of that pertains to your issue and circumstance. Such a lawyer would be the one that is perfect for you.


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