Let’s try an experiment: google “Burlington personal injury lawyers.” Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, welcome back.
As you may know, Google serves up different search results to different people and it’s unlikely that two people will see identical search results for any given search. So I don’t know exactly what you saw. But I’m pretty confident that whatever you saw will be pretty similar to what came up when I just tried this. Here is what showed up for me:
- 2 websites that pretend to rank ‘top’ or ‘best’ lawyers, but are really just sites where anyone can pay to have their names displayed
- 7 Toronto-based law firms and 1 Hamilton-based firm that don’t appear to have any connection to Burlington, but are explicitly advertising themselves as “Burlington lawyers”
- 1 Hamilton-based law firm and 2 Toronto-based law firms that claim to have local Burlington satellite offices… but don’t appear to have any lawyers who actually practice out of those locations
- 1 completely fictional law firm that literally does not exist, and is likely run by a marketing company to direct unsuspecting prospective clients to out-of-town firms who pay for the referrals
- Only 2 actual, real Burlington law firms
Two. Out of 16 unique results (and 20 total results). A pretty pathetic score.
The moral of the story? Don’t always trust google to show you the best results! If you are looking for a lawyer online, make sure you carefully research your options and choose a lawyer that is actually local in your community.
Here are some tips to help you identify real, local lawyers when searching online:
- disregard websites that purport to rank the ‘top’ or ‘best’ lawyers out there
- be wary of firms that purport to have multiple offices in different regions, especially if they are smaller firms with too few lawyers to actually staff separate offices, or if they are firms that appear to be absolutely everywhere
- ask questions of firms you are considering going with – where will your lawyer be located? Do they have a real office in your community, or do they just rent a meeting room? What connections does the firm have to your community?
- make sure the “firm” that you contact is actually the firm you get – watch out for referral farms that sell clients to other firms for a fee, and outright fictional law firms that are just marketing fronts for out-of-town firms
- look up the firm’s lawyers on the Law Society of Ontario’s online lawyer directory to find out their actual practice location as registered with the Law Society
- check if the lawyer is a member of reputable legal organizations like the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Halton County Law Association or the Hamilton Law Association – all of which have searchable, online member directories
Read these articles to learn more about seeing through legal marketing mumbo-jumbo and questions to ask when hiring a personal injury lawyer.