When you’ve been involved in an accident and are considering a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll need a reliable and effective attorney who specializes in personal injury lawsuits. You’ll want a local lawyer, one who lives and works right here in Los Angeles. You’ll want a lawyer with a great reputation and proven track record.

But finding one isn’t always easy. Los Angeles is huge — more than 4 million people live here, and the Los Angeles sprawl covers 469 square miles. Expand your view to all of Los Angeles County, and you’re seeing a metropolitan area that rivals New York City’s. Looking for the right lawyer can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

But you can do this, and we can help. Here’s how to find the right attorney in Los Angeles.

Know where to start

Before you can vet potential attorneys, you’ll need to have a list to start with. So where should you look first?

Local Better Business Bureau websites and bar association websites are great starting points. So are the suggestions of friends and family. Jot down names, numbers, and website URLs that you see on television advertisements or on billboards, too. Sure, you don’t yet know if these lawyers are any good, but be patient — that’s what we’ll figure out next.

Know what you’re looking for

Before you can properly evaluate your choices, you need to know what you want. So what do you want?

You want a local attorney, for one. If your attorney actually works in Los Angeles, he or she will be more convenient and accessible to you. Plus, local lawyers may know the opposition and the judges — not to mention the all-important state and local laws.

You’ll want a lawyer who specializes in your sort of case, too. Car accident? You need a car accident lawyer. Slip and fall? A slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles. Plenty of lawyers handle multiple types of personal injury cases, but you want to know that they really know your type of incident. If they do, they’ll have the contacts to get experts on the stand who will help you case.

You’ll want clear communication, too. Your lawyer should make it easy for you to understand and make key decisions. There should be a personal touch — and that personal touch should extend beyond the times when you’re meeting with your lawyer in person. You want your lawyer (and not their assistants, paralegals, and interns) working on your case as much as possible.

And, of course, you want a good lawyer: an experienced, reputable, educated, and competent one.

Finding the right lawyer

To a significant extent, you can evaluate the above criteria using nothing more than a lawyer’s website. Check out the educational background and experience, if those are listed. Look for testimonials that attest to the lawyer’s communication skills and results. Find your type of case listed in the attorney’s areas of expertise. And look at that address: Is it local?

Next, check out review websites. Really read the reviews and try to figure out what sort of attorney you’d be dealing with. Ask your friends and family, too — you’ll be able to trust their firsthand accounts more than those of anonymous people online.

And don’t forget to feel the situation out during your initial consultation, too. The initial consultation is an attorney’s chance to decide to represent you, but it’s also your chance to decide if you want to work with this particular attorney. If you don’t feel like it’s a fit, try a different attorney!

It’s worth being careful when you choose a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. A lot of lawyers are out there, but there is a best fit for you and your case. Happy hunting!