How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer For Beginners: Higher Legal vs. AllLaw.com
What is the best way to find a personal injury lawyer in California?
This is the first in a series of articles to help you determine the best way to find a personal injury lawyer in California. In this article, I will explain two methods or sources you can use to find the best personal injury lawyer for both you and your particular case.
When I became a personal injury lawyer in 1985 most people found their personal injury lawyers through a personal referral. Sometimes it was a referral from a friend or family member, but more often it was from a judge or another lawyer.
The internet and mass media advertising has changed everything, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
There are many ways now to find a personal injury lawyer
In addition to asking friends and family, or lawyers and judges, research shows that people now find their personal injury lawyer through many new and evolving avenues, including:
- Television and radio advertisements by lawyers;
- Internet searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others;
- Paid “legal directories” like Avvo and others;
- Social media postings;
- National Legal Advertising Companies (Lead Generation), and
- State Bar Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) like Higher Legal.
Over this series of articles, I will go through each of these methods and we will compare them to our California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS#130) so you can compare and contrast them and have the information you need to determine the best way for you to find your personal injury lawyer.
In this first article, I am going to compare two very different ways to find a personal injury lawyer. You might call it a real David vs. Goliath comparison.
I’ll compare Higher Legal, a California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS #130) run by a real personal injury lawyer (your author), and AllLaw.com, an enormous billion-dollar national Legal Advertising - Lead Generation business.
Interestingly, while I was writing this article I did a Google search for “How do most people find their personal injury lawyer?” and the first entry that came up (after the paid lawyer advertisements) was from AllLaw.com, the legal advertising lead generation company reviewed in this article.
Method #1: What is a Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS)?
The California State Bar has a special certification it awards to organizations that meet a high level of transparency and excellence. Certified Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) are designed to serve the community, protect legal consumers, and improve the quality and affordability of legal services to the public. If you look at the California State Bar website, their number one listing on how to find a lawyer is through a certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS).
Every year the California State Bar requires their certified Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) to get recertified. They are required to provide the State Bar with information about their services in order to establish their panel lawyers are fully qualified to handle the types of cases that are referred to them, to prove their lawyers carry insurance, to show their lawyers are in good standing with the California State Bar, to attest that their lawyers do not discriminate, and to verify their lawyers meet all of the many other high standards and requirements established by the California State Bar.
If a Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) meets each of the requirements of the State Bar, they are recertified for the next year. The purpose of the certification is to make sure the public is protected from bad lawyers and bad lawyer referrals. The California State Bar has more information on their referral services here: What a Certified Lawyer Referral Service Can Do for You
Here is a directory to all of the Certified Lawyer Referral Services in California: LRS Directory
Who is Higher Legal?
Higher Legal (LRS#130) is a certified Lawyer Referral Service that was first certified by the California State Bar in 2009. We have been successfully recertified by the California State Bar every year since 2009. Your author, attorney Daniel Amos [SBN#119492], is the founder of Higher Legal. I have also been a licensed lawyer in California since 1985. I personally handle each and every call, email, and website message that comes into Higher Legal. When you need a personal injury lawyer, I spend the time needed to understand you, your case, your needs, your fears, your frustrations, and then I use my many years of legal experience to refer you to the personal injury lawyer who I believe is the best possible fit for your case.
There is no charge to you for any of my time. Higher Legal is a free service for all of our clients. Higher Legal is a small service (me) that provides highly personalized service. I am the sole employee at Higher Legal and you have my full attention to your needs when you contact Higher Legal.
I became a personal injury lawyer in 1985 and throughout my legal career, I had the pleasure of working with some of the very best personal injury lawyers in California who have recovered billions of dollars for their clients. I have represented thousands of people who have been injured in all sorts of accidents, and I have fought for personal injury victims in courts all across the state of California.
Why choose Higher Legal?
I like to live by the words and advice about referrals written by Seth Godin who said:
- “Be worthy. Not just in the work you do, but in your status in the marketplace. I’m far more likely to refer to someone with a backstory, someone who’s an underdog, or relatively unknown.”
So much of this is true about Higher Legal. Higher Legal is a one-person operation with a limited budget, but we (me) have a ton of legal experience and a sincere heart. My entire legal career has been as a personal injury lawyer. I know the lawyers who are best, and I know who you should avoid. When someone is looking for the right personal injury lawyer, they deal directly with me, a personal injury lawyer with decades of experience. If that’s important to you, Higher Legal might be a great resource for you.
And when I refer someone to one of the great Higher Legal panel lawyers, our relationship doesn't end there. I encourage my Higher Legal clients to stay in touch and keep me informed about their experience and how their case is going. I encourage them to contact me if they have any questions or if there is anything about their case they don’t understand. As a personal injury lawyer since 1985, I have a lot of experience and I love to share that with people. I am always available to help.
With Higher Legal, you have a personal relationship with a real person, a real lawyer (me) who is always here to help you navigate through any fears or frustrations you have while going through a personal injury litigation.
Method #2: What is a Legal Advertising/Lead Generation Company?
One of the newer and more mysterious ways to find a personal injury lawyer is through one of the large national advertising or “lead generation” companies. According to Statista Research, “In 2019, digital lead generation advertising spending in the United States is estimated to amount to nearly 2.6 billion U.S. dollars. With steady growth, this figure is forecast to reach 3.2 billion by the end of 2023.”
Lead generation advertising is one way many people “unknowingly” find their personal injury lawyer.
In other words, many people who are looking for a personal injury lawyer on the internet think they are contacting a lawyer or law firm, or are looking at a real legal directory, but in reality, have unknowingly reached an advertising or lead generation company that “looks like” a law firm or lawyer.
In a nutshell, a legal advertising/lead generation company does a lot of advertising in order to get people who need a personal injury lawyer to call or contact them, and then they sell that client (or ‘lead’) to a lawyer who needs business. In other words, injured victims become commodities that are bought and sold. The Wall Street Journal once referred to the business like this:
- “Individual plaintiffs can become commodities that are bought and sold by marketers, with prices based on demand.”
The American Bar Association (ABA) identifies some of these “Large-branded players in the legal field [which] include Lawyers.com, FindLaw, Nolo, and Martindale-Avvo.” Nolo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MH Sub I, LLC, is the integration of some of the Internet's first legal sites, including Nolo.com, Divorcenet.com and AllLaw.com.”
The ABA describes the workings of these lead generation businesses as follows:
“Many law firms have been built on the backs of lead generation services—some with multiple vendors driving a variety of leads. Lead gen companies typically charge lawyers on the pay-per-lead (PPL) model—i.e., law firms pay a set price for each inbound opportunity delivered. Predictably, the pricing is highly variable by practice area, ranging from $20 to north of $700 per inbound opportunity.”
“For years, local search (the map in a Google search with the red pins in it) has been polluted by fake listings. From a Google perspective, fake listings include local law firms pretending to have an office at a location that isn’t really staffed (think a mailbox at a Regus office), out-of-state law firms pretending to be in-state, and non-law firms masquerading as law firms. The latter category is the foundation of many leads that are resold to law firms. With the right experience and technical know-how, it is possible to set up a fake business and get it to rank on Google local search results. The legal industry has been particularly targeted with these tactics because the industry is both very lucrative and very competitive. These tactics have been used by foreign actors, enterprising (albeit unethical) individuals, and lawyers themselves.”
“Even more commonplace is a nonlawyer pretending to be a law firm. The giveaway for identifying these listings is the website that looks very much like a law firm’s until you realize there is not a single lawyer listed anywhere on the site. These listings also tend to have no (or very few) Google client reviews. Leads generated through these fake businesses are then sold back to attorneys—sometimes laundered through the more recognized branded lead generation companies.”
According to Venable LLP, a leading corporate law firm:
“Lead generation is the practice of identifying or cultivating consumer interest in a product or service and selling this information to third parties. The FTC has led the charge against what it believes are prevalent abuses committed by sellers and buyers of online leads. In addition to bringing enforcement actions against companies, which we discuss in some detail below, it also has spent considerable resources researching and understanding the industry.”
“For years, the FTC has been actively pursuing lead generation companies for using false or deceptive ads to induce consumers to submit a lead. It has targeted both publishers and network operators that play an active role in designing and/or distributing the allegedly deceptive ads.”
Who is AllLaw.com? (MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands)
AllLaw.com is listed in Wikipedia as a company that was purchased on December 10, 2010, by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands, an American new media company based in El Segundo, California. That company was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com, launched from the business incubator Idealab. The company invented a consumer-advocacy approach to selling cars "haggle-free" online, an approach it continues to employ. It is listed as having revenue of $1.6 Billion dollars in 2020. Their website states they are not a lawyer referral service, and “The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising.”
AllLaw.com is part of the Nolo Network. Nolo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MH Sub I, LLC, is the integration of Nolo.com, Divorcenet.com, and AllLaw.com. These sites were combined with the ExpertHub technology platform in 2011 to form the Nolo Network.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA) these companies are part of what is known as a Lead Generation service:
- There are a variety of lead generation companies - some known brands, some obscure, and some operating from the shadows of the legal search engine optimization (SEO) market. Large-branded players in the legal field include Lawyers.com, FindLaw, Nolo, and Martindale-Avvo.
Why choose AllLaw.com?
If you go to the AllLaw.com website it prominently states “FIND A LAWYER” at the top of the website, but there is nothing that indicates if they are good lawyers or if they are qualified to handle your case, or if they have experience in a particular area of personal injury law. It’s evident that AllLaw.com does not specialize in personal injury law or in lawyers who specialize in personal injury law, and they don’t seem to provide any information about the lawyers they will help you “find”.
There is a section near the bottom of the website where you can purchase do-it-yourself legal forms for things like wills, living trusts, bankruptcy, and many other areas of law. The website indicates they have lawyers who practice in the area of tax law, divorce law, immigration law, criminal law, and others. So one reason to use them may be to find lawyers and legal forms in many different areas of the law.
AllLaw.com is also a national service that can connect you with lawyers in all states and in many different areas of the law, including personal injury, bankruptcy, divorce, workers compensation, tax, and immigration to name a few.
A Personal Note
Strangely, I didn’t see anything on the AllLaw.com website that discussed WHY you should use AllLaw.com to find a lawyer. I did see a section at the very bottom of their website entitled “About Nolo” which says, “Our mission is to help consumers and small businesses find answers to their everyday legal and business questions.”
On December 21, 2021, I sent an email to AllLaw.com to ask them why people should use AllLaw.com to find a personal injury lawyer.
Here is the email and the questions I asked:
I am interested in learning more about AllLaw.com for a series of articles I am writing for Higher Legal about the best ways to find a personal injury lawyer in California. Higher Legal is a California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS#130) which I have run since 2009. California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Services are designed to serve the community, protect legal consumers, and improve the quality and affordability of legal services to the public. I am also a licensed California lawyer [SBN#119492]. I have reviewed the AllLaw.com website but would like some additional information I was not able to find on your website. Would you be kind enough to provide me with answers to these questions:
1. Is there any advantage to a consumer using AllLaw.com to find a personal injury lawyer in California over using other similar services such as FindLaw.com, Avvo.com, Lawyers.com, etc.? If so, please explain the advantage to the consumer.
2. Is there any advantage to a consumer using AllLaw.com to find a personal injury lawyer in California over using a State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service? If so, please explain the advantage to the consumer.
3. Does AllLaw.com screen its California personal injury lawyers? If so, please explain the screening process. (i.e. does it include personal interviews, State Bar check, written verification, etc.)
4. Does AllLaw.com have any written standards (such as those of the California State Bar) that its lawyers in California must meet in order to receive referrals from AllLaw.com?
5. Are referrals from AllLaw.com made by purely technological means, or are people involved in each referral? (lawyers, staff, etc.)
6. How many consumers in California utilize AllLaw.com each year to find a personal injury lawyer?
7. How many personal injury lawyers in California utilize AllLaw.com each year to acquire clients?
Thank you for your assistance. Your information will be helpful to our article.
Please feel free to reach me at this email address.
With warm regards,
Unfortunately, AllLaw.com never responded to my email.
This series of articles deals with the many different types of services you can use to find a personal injury lawyer in California. I will also be writing a separate series of articles that deal with the attributes you should look for when you are trying to find a personal injury lawyer in California. Those articles will deal with characteristics you should look for in your lawyer that will be a good fit for you such as:
- Communication Skills: Do you want a lawyer who updates you all the time, or would you prefer to just hear from your lawyer about the most important events in your case
- Experience: What type of personal injury cases does your lawyer have the most experience in? Has she/he had jury trials experience?
- Size Matters: Will you work better with a large firm or a small group or a solo practitioner?
There are lots of things to consider and I will be writing articles to help you with all of these decisions.
I hope this article has provided you with some helpful information on two different methods you can use to find a personal injury lawyer in California.
I realize there is a lot more information on this subject so if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at Higher Legal. I promise I will get back to you!
If you need a referral to a great personal injury lawyer, send me a message and I will personally help you find the right personal injury lawyer for your case.
If you found any of this information useful, I hope you will share this post with your family and friends, and ‘SUBSCRIBE’ to this blog. Your support helps grow our community and allows us to help others like you who are looking for reliable legal information. As I mentioned in the article, Higher Legal is a personalized one-person operation with a budget in the hundreds of dollars, while lead generation companies are multi-billion dollar operations, so I need your help getting the word out!
Thanks for reading!