Updated Sept. 14, 2015.
Prepared by Mary Whisner; updated by Rachel Turpin (2009).
This guide provides information on finding attorneys, filing a grievance against an attorney, initiating a court case, writing briefs, and learning about jury verdicts.
See also the Gallagher guide Help! I Need a Lawyer!
There are many ways to locate a local attorney.
Washington LawHelp's Legal Help Directory lists legal aid and information services by county.
Avvo.com provides directory information and ratings for lawyers (and, as of Nov. 1, 2010, doctors). Lawyers may claim their profiles and add their own information. Clients and colleagues may comment. In addition, the site has a section where users can ask questions that attorneys volunteer to answer. You can also search and read past questions and answers.
The Findlaw Lawyer Directory is another nationwide directory of attorneys that allows you to search by city, practice area, and other factors.
For decades, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (in print) was the leading directory of attorneys and law firms. It includes biographical information about lawyers--names, addresses, phone numbers, and, often, where they went to law school, what areas they practice in, etc. The Library has the print copy: KF190.M3 at Reference Area. The free online version enables you to search for lawyers by practice area and city.
Advice on Finding & Working with Lawyers
A self-help legal publisher called Nolo offers provides several articles on working with a lawyer, including:
Washington State Courts
Washington Law Help links to several guides on hiring and working with lawyers, such as:
- How to Find a Lawyer & Other Legal Resources in Washington State
- Representing Yourself
- Working with a Lawyer
Washington State Bar Association guides:
Finding the Right Lawyer (American Bar Association).
KF311.Z9 F66 1995 at Reference Area
Consumers' Guide to Getting Legal Help (American Bar Association).
KF311.Z9 C66 2000 at Reference Area
The American Bar Association Guide to Resolving Legal Disputes: Inside
and Outside the Courtroom.
KF9084.Z9 A54 2007 at Reference Area
The Lawsuit Survival Guide: A Client's Companion to Litigation (Nolo).
KF8863 .M28 2001 at Reference Area
Mad at Your Lawyer? (Nolo).
KF311.Z9 S73 1996 at Reference Area
I Need to Know How to Handle a Case in Court, Including What Papers to File and So on.
Where Do I Start?
Several books and online sources provide useful overviews.
The Pro Se Handbook: A Guide to Representing Yourself in King County Superior Court (King County Bar Association).
KFW530.Z9R46 2006 at Classified Stacks and online
Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case (7th ed.) is a useful general work that is not Washington State-specific. Table of contents. The latest edition is in the Reference Area; previous editions are in the Classified Stacks and can be checked out.
KF8841 .B47 2010 at Reference Area
The Washington Lawyers Practice Manual, 7 vols., is also published by the Seattle-King County Bar Association. It discusses a variety of practice issues and prints sample forms for different types of motions. Volume 1 includes chapters on Civil Trial Practice, Appellate Practice, and Guide to King County Superior Court.
KFW80.W27 1986 at Reference Area
You will need to be familiar with the court rules for whatever court your case is in. The Library has several sets containing the Washington court rules. Court rules are also available online.
KFW529 at Reference Area
Washington Practice, 30+ vols., is a legal encyclopedia for Washington State, covering topics like civil practice, contracts, criminal law, elder law, evidence, family law, real estate, and torts. The books are intended for use by attorneys, but they can be useful for people without legal training.
KFW80.W3 at Reference Area
Other books on Washington State law are described in the Gallagher guide on Washington Practice Materials.
Washington LawHelp has several useful documents:
The Washington Courts provide A Citizen's Guide to Washington Courts.
The King County Superior Court website has information on court forms and fees, filing documents, and related topics.
Washington Courts: An Introduction to Small Claims Court
Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division: Resolving Consumer Disputes
Washington LawHelp: Small Claims Court
King County Small Claims Court
The Seattle Times, "How to Win the Small Claims Game" (Jan. 26, 2003)
King County Small Claims Courts: A Guide on How to Use the Small Claims Courts and How to Collect Small Claims Judgments (King County Bar Association).
KFW599.K56S543 2001 at Reference Area & online
Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court (12th ed.). General in nature; not tailored to Washington State.
KF8769.Z95W37 2008 at Reference Area
We have many books on legal writing--and almost every book on legal writing will have at least one chapter on briefs. In the Law Library catalog, search for legal-composition as a subject heading. You can limit the search to books on legal composition in the Reference Area. See also the Gallagher guide on Legal and General Writing Resources.
There are also a few books that are so focused on briefs that they only have "briefs" in the subject heading. For them, search for briefs and limit to books in the Reference Area.
The Library has briefs that were filed in cases before the Washington Supreme Court, the Washington Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. In addition, some briefs are available on the Internet.
Please see the Gallagher guide on Jury Verdicts, Settlements, Judgments, and Liens.
When looking for jury verdicts in national sources, remember that different laws may apply in different states, leading to different settlement or verdict amounts.
For more information about Jury Verdict Reporters not available at the Gallagher Law Library, call (206) 774-0530 and ask about the National Association of State Jury Verdict Publishers.