How to Find an Attorney

The most common question Iím asked when folks take the time to contact me is how to find an attorney in their state. The second most common question is if I can represent someone in a state other than New Hampshire, and the answer is "no."

I donít have a magic formula for locating an attorney, and usually it makes a difference whether or not the charges are criminal or civil.

If youíre the subject of a criminal child abuse allegation, I would recommend calling the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center. They have information on criminal attorneys experienced in child abuse defense in almost every state.

What the Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center does NOT have is access to long list of attorneys who do the civil defense, such as I do. The reason for this is that most states donít allocate as much money to defend the civil charges, and most attorneys who do the civil defense donít sign up for out of state continuing legal education classes ("CLEís.")

If someone writes or e-mails me, hereís what I tell them:

Beyond those, I just donít have a pile of information. You could try a "google" search on "child abuse defense attorney," but I tried it, and one of my own pages came out close to the top. Add your two letter state acronym to narrow the results.

One method Iíve used in the past is to search the stateís case law. To get to ANY stateís web site, type in "www.state.xx.us," where "xx" is the two letter abbreviation for the state. All states have statutes on line, but not all have case law on line. If you can find the supreme court cases, do a search on "child abuse" or "child neglect" or "In re:", which is how many juvenile cases are named in Supreme Courts. Find a child abuse case, and see who argued it for the parent. Contact the state bar association to see where the attorney is. Get a few names, and call the one closest to you. If he canít represent you, he might know someone who can.

Lois Law has statutory and case law, and they have short guest memberships for free. Their monthly fee is a bit stiff for a parent, but it might be worth it while the case is going on to sign up. Westlaw and Lexis have one time search fees, but theyíre pretty expensive. Findlaw has a lawyer search function, but I havenít found it to be terribly useful, since "child abuse defense" isnít a listed specialty. Searching your stateís case law for attorneys who have argued cases to the state supreme court is really a better way to go.

Another method Iíve used thatís been successful is to locate a large newspaper near where you live, and search their archives for stories about CPS in your state, using whatever acronym the state uses. Many times, theyíll get quotes from attorneys who regularly go against them. Pull their names from the paper, call 411, and give the attorney a call. Youíll likely be able to get a referral if he or she canít help you directly because of geography. To find almost any newspaper in the country, Yahoo and The US Newspaper List have great sites

This is really exactly what Iíd tell you if you called or e-mailed me, so please try these methods before calling me. Iíve gotten far too many calls in the past year to be able to answer questions about this.


Last updated 2003 March 25.