Tallahassee Trial Lawyer > FAQS > Choosing a Lawyer

Choosing a Lawyer

There are many different reasons you may need a lawyer. You may be buying a home, organizing your estate, beginning a business, or in a situation with legal complications.  Any of these can potentially cause stress.  A knowledgeable lawyer can help ease the stress and bring the situation to a successful resolution. But how do you find the lawyer who will be most appropriate for you and your situation?

A recommendation from a friend or a family member may get you started, but through Martindale-Hubbell’s 100+ year-old rating system, you will obtain objective ratings about a lawyer. These ratings are the result of input from other lawyers, attorneys, and judges. This highly reputable rating system offers peers an opportunity to attest to the expertise and professionalism of colleagues.  The following are some of the indicators evaluated: 

  • Communication ability
  • Responsiveness
  • Quality of service
  • Value for money

Thomas R. Thompson and Scott Smiley have both earned the rating of Preeminent Attorneys, the highest rating possible awarded under this system.  Called an AV® rating law firms are given the same rating as that of the lawyer(s) with the highest rating; therefore, the law firm of Thompson, Crawford, & Smiley has also been designated with an AV® rating.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating

There are two categories of ratings:

  1. Legal Ability Ratings:  These ratings reflect professional expertise in a specific area of practice. Based on performance in five areas, lawyers receive a score of 1 to 5 (five being the highest)

    a.  Legal knowledge – how well a lawyer knows the laws related to his/her specialty area
    b.  Analytical capability – how flexible and resourceful a lawyer is in analyzing legal issues and implementing technical knowledge. 
    c.  Judgment – how well the lawyer demonstrates knowledge of and addresses the significant issues that impact the outcome of a case or issue
    d. Communication ability – how well the lawyer communicates in a fashion that is persuasive and credible
    e. Legal experience – how much experience the lawyer has had in his/her specialized area
  2. General Ethical Standards Rating - This rating designates compliance of professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria pertinent to the execution of professional responsibilities.

Both categories are reviewed after which the attorney being rated will receive one of three ratings:

  • CV Peer Review Rating – this reflects an excellent firs  rating indicating a lawyer’s above average ability and very high ethics
  • BV Peer Review Rating – this rating denotes an exemplary reputation and a proven practice and is typical of a mid-career lawyer with a substantial number of clients
  • AV Peer Review Rating – this rating indicates a lawyer who has reached the pinnacle of professional excellence, has typically been practicing law for a significant amount of time and exhibits the utmost in skill  and integrity 

When an ample number of peers and judges rate an attorney as preeminent, an AV rating is awarded.  Thompson, Crawford & Smiley have earned this recognition.