What Type of Lawyer do I need?

As with most answers when it comes to the law itself, many things are not simple and clear.  The most appropriate answer, at the outset, is “It depends.”
While this is often frustrating to someone in need of counsel, much more information is needed to find the “right fit” for you and your case.

A)  First, one must ascertain the following:
1.  Where do I live?
2.  Where did the act or omission in controversy (the case) take place?
3.  Who are the parties to the case (who do you disagree with or share interests with regarding the focus of your legal concerns)?
4.  What area(s) of law does your case concern?


B)  Utilizing the American Trial Academy website:
1.  Search for lawyers who practice in or near the county where you live.
2.  Narrow the search field to include only lawyers who focus their practice on the type of law at issue in your case.


C)  1.  Make a list of three to five lawyers to call on the phone regarding your case.
2.  Narrow down that list considering the feedback that you receive, the availability of the lawyer for the phone call and an initial consult, and the general feeling or comfort you have with that lawyer.
3.  Try and gauge over the phone if the type of attorney you need for your case is a different one and then go back to the Second step, above, and repeat.


D) Meet with multiple lawyers that you have spoken with over the phone so that you can decide with whom you feel most confident and comfortable going forward.

Further, out of the lawyers you sit down and meet with, choose the one who is the best fit for you at that time.  The following factors should be weighed depending upon your circumstances:
1.  How much experience do they have in this practice area?
2.  How do they charge for their time?  (in tenth of an hour increments or quarter of an hour increments) or (hourly versus contingent).  In cases where you are the plaintiff (the one suing another entity for a certain amount in a civil or injury case), the fee should often be contingency.
3.  How well can they articulate how they will help you, specifically, and how can they relate your case to other successful cases they have handled in the past?
4.  Do they prefer communicating via telephone, text, email, etc. with you or are they flexible?

What's the best way to find a good lawyer?

Well the purpose of this website it to bring you to them.  We inquire thousands of past & current clients, judges, and fellow attorneys to create our Top Tier list of qualified attorneys.   Some people use referrals from friends or family.  However, non-legal professionals are typically not the best at rating legal professionals.  Just because your friend’s neighbor Bob, is a lawyer and did their taxes while being a nice guy does not qualify him as a skilled legal representative.   The lawyer on TV with goofy cartoon characters or his children may or may not be qualified.  While it could work out, we do not recommend following a single person’s referral.

Look for lots of positive signs.  Good questions to ask: Are they a top tier lawyer?  Am I seeing good feedback on this lawyer?  How quickly were they responsive to my inquiries?  Are they on time?  Have the done similar cases like this before?  Not good question

Should my lawyer be in a big or small firm? Will it cost more or less? (Does size really matter?)

As often we say, “It depends”.  There are a number of connotations associated with the size of a law firm and the value of service they provide.  On one hand, larger firms tend to have more resources on hand.  On the other, larger firms may charge more.  Also, you want to be an important part of your attorney’s book of business and not be just another number.  To further complicate matters, that attorney should also have a thriving business in general, at least to some degree, to have the tools available to successfully handle your case.  Like many professionals, the good ones tend to stay pretty busy.  While the size of the firm is a valid consideration in choosing your representation, it must be weighed along with many other factors mentioned here in.

Should I use a public defender?

It depends.  While public defenders are full fledged and licensed attorneys, they are often over-worked.  This can be good or bad.  Where as they may not have successfully dealt with your particular set of facts in the past; they may very well be more excited and invested in your case’s outcome.  Further, A public defender, or “court appointed attorney” is assigned to you, so you don’t get to choose your counsel.  Also, you usually must prove your financial need to qualify, so only a select percentage of people that are deemed financially unable will fit the bill (pardon the pun).  Are you OK with taking a random attorney or is it in your best interest to choose and pay for one that you feel is most qualified to successfully handle your case.

How much is this going to cost? Is it negotiable?

It depends.  If your attorney is hired on a contingency fee basis, they will generally charge 33 to 40% of the amount that is recovered, minus costs of litigation (such as traveling, copies, stenographer, expert fees, court costs, etc.).   Depending on the size of the case, contingency fees may range as high as 50% (for small cases) and 15% (for very large cases) possible even more. If your attorney is hired on an hourly basis, it depends on how much time the case takes to complete.  Thus, for example, if your attorney charges $250 per hour and he spends ten hours working on your case, it would cost you $2,500 (Twenty-five hundred dollars).  Often times, the attorney will charge you a “retainer.”  A retainer can be an estimate of the hours expected to be spent on the case or a sort of down payment for the first number of hours to be spent on the case.  If the attorney spends less time than estimated on the retainer, you would get a certain amount of money refunded.  If the attorney spends more time than expected, you would be responsible for the amount over and above the retainer.  The attorney may send you a bill, ask for you to “replenish” the retainer, or request a new retainer if more work is expected to be done.

Should I settle out of court?

Over 90% of cases are settled out of court.  Many compare going to court like a game of chicken.  “We are confident and better prepared than you are.”  In court you are relinquishing control of your case to a judge and/or jury.  You may have higher legal fees, it consumes more of your time and resources and it may damage your reputation regardless if the court sides with you.  All said, sometimes it may be necessary when both parties cannot reach a consensus or are not being reasonable.  Remember you hired a lawyer, value your lawyers advice as they have experience in how the legal process works in your case and outcomes from similar scenarios to yours.

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law passed by the legislature to set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings must be initiated.

​When the time specified in a statute of limitations passes, a claim can be dismissed if the defense against that claim is, or includes, that the claim is time-barred as having been filed after the statutory limitations period. When a statute of limitations expires in a criminal case, the courts no longer have jurisdiction. Although most crimes that have statutes of limitations are distinguished from serious crimes as these may be brought at any time.

​The cause of action dictates the statute of limitations, which can be reduced (or extended) to ensure a fair trial. The intention of these laws is to facilitate resolution within a “reasonable” length of time.  What period of time is considered “reasonable” varies from country to country, and from state to state.  Analysis of a statute of limitations also requires the examination of any associated statute of repose, tolling provisions, and exclusions.

What does it mean to plead not guilty by reason of insanity?

For example, Stacy Schuler, the former Mason High School gym teacher accused of ‘inappropriate’ contact with a number of her students, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

​This often utilized and rarely successful plea is an attempt by the defense to offer a legal excuse for the alleged perpetrator’s actions. While quite possibly the defendant’s best argument, the requirements for such a plea are very difficult to establish.

​The defense, in effect, is not contesting whether or not the criminal conduct took place – they are only arguing that the defendant did not possess the necessary mental state or intent to commit the crime. In case of such a plea, the trial court would order defendant to be evaluated, and the expert report would probably be directed to be provided in about four to six weeks.

What is the Oxford Heritage Institute?

The Oxford Heritage Institute, LLC, is a domestic limited liability company based in Alpha, Ohio.  It was originally incorporated in 2012.  Co-founded by childhood friends, an attorney and an engineer; they set out to bridge the gap between lawyers and clients.  After having a discussion on the difficulty of finding outstanding counsel, and how unreliable friends and family lawyer referrals can be despite the best of intentions; the idea for the American Trial Academy was born.

What is the American Trial Academy and what do they do?

With all of the legal directories and databases claiming to have the most well-qualified, trial-tested, and elite attorneys in hand, most, if not all of these lists, make recommendations based on public image and illusory internet search results.  Thus, the newly formed excellence recognition crew formed the American Trial Academy with plans to change the way prospective clients find the right lawyer for them.  Through research gathered by investigation, peer and judge assessment, and effectiveness in practice, we have been building the strongest conglomeration of practitioners at the height of their field.  All member attorneys have exceeded the high ethical standards set by the confluence of county, state, and federal licensure and regulation authorities, and have a continuing duty to notify the Academy in the event this changes.

Who are the members of the American Trial Academy?

The “Top Tier Lawyers”:

Making up this celebrated inaugural class are attorneys from all around the country, with firms big and small, alumni of many of the most prestigious law schools in the world. What they share is a thirst for excellence, and an immutable desire to zealously represent their clients while defending the Constitution. They are comprised of Plaintiffs attorneys, Defense attorneys, transactional attorneys, and everything in between. This group is filled with men and women, old and not-so-old, black and white, and so on and so forth. They went through school, studying full time, at least seven years post high school to even begin practicing law, and have compiled countless hours of continuing legal education along the challenging path towards achievement. The integrity, character, and perseverance of this gathering of professionals are second to none, and the pride and humility in which they serve their clients and communities is remarkable. They work hard, enjoy the hard-fought victories, and reflect on the difficult to digest defeats that come with the job. But presenting every single case in the light most favorable to their respective clients is non-negotiable.

Tell me more about these people?

Many have argued cases at the trial, appellate, and Supreme Court levels of adjudication.  And when not in litigation, are keen on offering prudent and effective advice and counsel along the way.  Becoming a “Top Tier Lawyer” is much more than a state of mind, it is much more than the school you graduated from, or the prestigious firm you were hired at; it is the recognition that you are tethered to excellence in practice and have the results to back it up.

What is the difference between a Mayor's Court and a "regular" court?

A Mayor’s Court, though they vary from state to state, is generally created from a city or municipality to hear traffic cases, OVI (or DUI), driving under suspension (DUS), and other misdemeanors.  Mayor’s Courts a Because Mayor’s Courts are not courts of record, are presided over by a Magistrate.  A Defendant has the automatic right to appeal the case, regardless of the result.  If a Defendant is not pleased with how their case turned out at the Mayor’s Court, the case can start over at the higher city or county court. When charged with an offense in Loveland Mayor’s Court, it is especially important to retain a local lawyer who has experience working in these unique types of Courts.  Because of the unofficial nature of Mayor’s Courts, the procedures and practical approaches to the case can vary greatly.