Reference from Coast to Coast - Finding Lawyers - Directories, Web Sites & State Bar Sources

Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a monthly column written by Jan Bissett and Margi Heinen.

Jan Bissett is a Reference Librarian in the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. She is a past president of the Michigan Association of Law Libraries and has published articles on administrative and research related topics in the Michigan Association of Law Libraries Newsletter and Michigan Defense Quarterly. She and Margi Heinen team- teach Legal Information Sources and Services for Wayne State University's Library and Information Science Program in Detroit, Michigan.   

Margi Heinen is the Librarian at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss in Detroit, Michigan. She teaches Legal Resources at the University of Michigan's School of Information and is team teaching with her co-columnist, Jan Bissett, at Wayne State University's School of Library and Information Science. She regularly does Internet training of legal staff at her firm and recently collaborated with Kathleen Gamache on an I.P.E. presentation, Internet Strategies for the Paralegal in Michigan. She is active in the Law Librarians of Metro Detroit and is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Those of us in the law business often need contact information for other practitioners in our profession. Sometimes we need basic information to return a call when the cell phone or speaker phone static makes that information a crackle.  Or we may need background information to assess the attorney on the other side. We occasionally seek to identify attorneys who can handle a matter for us in a different jurisdiction or legal arena. The goal of this column is to help you find attorney information from a variety of sources, especially State Bar directories of members. We don't describe the process and caveats of finding an attorney to handle your personal legal problem - that is a journey for another day.

Myriad directories of legal professionals exist. Access depends upon the information you may have and that you seek. Several pathfinders illustrate the types of information available as well as describing specific sources:Duke University School of Law Library's Directories of Lawyers provides information on web and print resources including identifying general and state directories as well as practice related and international materials.  Hastings Law Library Research Guide:Directories of Attorneys includes selected sources covering San Francisco and California, the United States, foreign and international listings as well as commercial databases and web sources. Zimmerman's Research Guide "Attorneys", "Bar Admission" and "Law Firms" describe general and specialized directories, rankings and disciplinary procedures' sources to help you locate or identify a particular lawyer or law firm.

The lawyer directory we all cut our teeth on, Martindale-Hubbell, is still our instinctive choice. Just remind yourself there are two web sites from Martindale Hubbell. Martindale.com's lawyer locator with listings of over one million lawyers and law firms in 160 countries includes corporate and faculty legal professionals listings as well as national and international attorney searches by location, language, name, practice or firm. This web version and the print source include ratings for 43% of the United States attorneys listed. The ratings(A, B, C for legal ability and V for general ethical standards) claim to be based on queries and interviews with the legal and judicial community. The researcher is encouraged to read the descriptions of the rating scale and process before making assumptions about their usefulness. The second web-site, Lawyers.com lawyer locator, geared towards the lay public and small business does not include ratings information and profiles 420,000 attorneys and firms.

Martindale-Hubbell, part of the LexisNexis family of products, has as its counterpart West Group's Findlaw/West Legal Directory. The Findlaw directory has the same advantage its predecessor West Legal Directory had: contact information for solo practitioners or small firms. One of the drawbacks of the classic Martindale-Hubbell search is the possibility of finding nothing or only the name of a small law firm you are seeking, no address or telephone number, much less any biographical information. West's product, on the other hand, is a great place to check for basic information on attorneys in all size firms.

A serious drawback to the Findlaw directory (not a problem on the Martindale site) is the requirement that a lawyer search use a surname. The necessity of a surname means every misspelling makes the site useless. We too often are taking notes from people on speaker phones, static-filled lines or the requester simply has no idea how to spell an unfamiliar name or isn't sure of which common spelling might be used. Painful as a search by first name might be, narrowing that search by geographical area will yield at least a list of attorney possibilities. A number of Web-based attorney directories suffer from this restriction of a required surname so you may want to find out if the professional has a specialty or where he/she practices to determine if other directories are available. You may also want to try a simple Google or Yahoo search with variant spellings to see if you can find a web site for the attorney or a reference with the correct spelling.

When you cannot find an attorney in one of these directories one option is to go directly to the Bar Association to which he/she may belong. A majority of states have what is known as a "unified bar" which regulates the licensing of attorneys in the state. The Vermont Bar Association provides a list of state bar associations and their unified or voluntary status. Even the voluntary state bar associations usually maintain lists of members with contact information.

Going directly to the bar association can be especially helpful if you are finding outdated material in the national directories: changes in address or location may be more quickly updated by the bar associations. These bar associations' directories fall into roughly three categories:public access/searching of their membership on the Web;membership only access; and a third group publishes in print only and may require a telephone call to verify an attorney's membership. We have noticed that while it is easy to locate state bar web sites, it is often not clear if they have a searchable member database or just how searchable the database may be. Often the referral service of the bar is clearly linked but the listing of members is not. We offer the listings we've identified below of available attorney directories/ member information at the state bar association level.

Alabama
Member Search

Search template offers name, location and law school search options.

Alaska
Bar Association Member Directory

Search by last name or bar number only. Information is provided at the discretion of the member but includes inactive and deceased member names.

Arizona
State Bar Member Finder

Especially helpful search template - includes language as a search field.

Arkansas
http://www.arkbar.com
Search options include surname, practice area or location.

California
State Bar of California Member Records Online
Search by number or name in a database that indicates active or inactive membership status.

Connecticut
Membership Directory
Only available to members. Requires a login and password.

Delaware
State Bar of Delaware

[Print directory available http://www.dsba.org/direct98.htm]

District of Columbia
Member Lookup

Search choice of 2 templates:attorney name or company/geographic location.

Florida
Florida Bar Attorney Search
Active, inactive and retired members of the Bar; search by last name, first name and city optional.

Georgia
State Bar of Georgia Directory
Search by last or first name, company, city, state or zip code.

Idaho
Idaho
State Bar and Idaho Legal Foundation, Inc. Attorney Roster Search
Search by attorney's last name.

Illinois
Illinois Lawyer Finder [Illinois State Bar Association's lawyer directory]
Entries include members of the State Bar with a specified minimum coverage of professional liability insurance in good standing as determined by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Search by field of practice, name, city, zip code or county.

Michigan
State Bar of Michigan Member Directory http://www.michbar.org/member/content.html
Search by first or last name; city (mailing city) can be used to refine the search.

Mississippi
Database of Mississippi Bar Attorneys
"The Mississippi Bar, in conjunction with LawNetCom, maintains an online membership directory that can be searched by first name, last name, address, city, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, or any combination of two of the above."

Missouri
The Missouri Bar Online Directory
[Members only login].

Nebraska
Nebraska
Bar Attorney Directory
Search by last or first name, address (street, city, state), phone, fax or e-mail in this database of all active Nebraska Bar attorneys.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire
Bar Association Member Directory
[Members only login].

New Mexico
State Bar of New Mexico Attorney Finder – Online Attorney Directory
Search by last or first name, employer, certified specialization, practice area, foreign language ability, city, state or counties in which cases are accepted for active, licensed State Bar members.

New York
New York
State Attorney Directory
[New York State Unified Court System] Attorney provided registration information. Search by name, truncation possible; only 25 matches returned.

North Carolina
North Carolina State Bar Member Directory
Search by name (first, middle or last), city or state.

North Dakota
North Dakota
Supreme Court Lawyers – Lawyers Directory

Query by word or phrase; Boolean searching (AND; OR; AND NOT; NEAR); truncation possible as well as free-text queries.

Ohio
Ohio State Bar Association Membership Directory
Search by name (first, last), address (city, state, zip code), Firm name, county or type of practice.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Bar Association's Okalahoma Find a Lawyer
Includes only those members who give permission to be included. Search by practice area, city, county and/or last name.

Oregon
Oregon State Bar Membership Directory

Search by bar number, first or last name.

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
Bar Association Lawyers Directory
Subscription service.

South Carolina
South Carolina
Bar Online Lawyer Directory
Search by last name, city, county or state.

Tennessee
Tennessee
Bar Association TBA Member Database
Search by name (first, middle, last), firm/organization, city, state, zip or BPR number.

Texas
State Bar of Texas Member Search
Find an attorney in Texas by searching by Barcard, First or Last Name, Firm Name, or Former Name.

Utah
Utah State Bar Find A Lawyer
Key word, case-sensitive searching of all licensed members of the Utah State Bar.

Washington
Washington
State
Lawyer Directory
Current contact information for lawyers currently licensed to practice in Washington State.

West Virginia
West Virginia State Bar Membership Directory
View a list by active, inactive members or interactive search. Template includes law i.d., last name, county, city and status.

Wisconsin
WisBar Lawyer Search
Find licensed Wisconsin attorneys by last or first name, organization, city, country, year of graduation, law school or Wisconsin county.

Wyoming
Wyoming State Bar Lawyer Directory

Search by lawyer's last name or city.