You can find attorneys who practice in the field of creditors' rights through directories and bar association referral services. There is a website called "AVVO.com" that gives lawyers numerical ratings. I would give AVVO.com a rating of zero and suggest nobody use it to find an attorney.
Apparently AVVO gives attorneys initial ratings based on information scooped from attorney regulatory bodies: where the lawyers attended school, when they were admitted to practice, and whether they have been professionally disciplined. Ceteris paribus, the attorney who graduated first in his or her class at a given law school will then receive the same ranking as the attorney who finished last in that same law school class. Apparently that "cellar dweller" will also receive a higher rating than an attorney who graduated first in his or her class at some "lesser" school.
To tweak the ratings -- and startled attorneys will be induced to do so when they see higher ratings given to attorneys they know to be weak practitioners-- attorneys must "claim their profile" and provide AVVO with additional information. This process creates a second layer of rating problems. In essence, AVVO rewards attorneys who spend their time "gaming" AVVO to market themselves.
As a result, some of the attorneys in California who are most highly respected by their peers (e.g., they are cited by judges) have mediocre ratings. Conversely, some of the highest AVVO ratings are enjoyed by recent law school graduates with little experience.
As of the time of this post Richard Pearl, author of what is undoubtedly California's most relied-upon treatise on attorney fee law, has not claimed his AVVO profile and rates only a 6.7. James Wagstaffe, long a co-author of what is probably the most widely-used California practice guide on civil procedure, rates only an 8.3. Mark Tuft, co-author of what is likely the most widely-used California practice guide on professional responsibility, rates only an 8.7. These are the lawyers upon whom other lawyers rely! And how about Robert Rosenfeld over at Orick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, a Harvard Law grad who was entrusted with defending Microsoft Corporation against something like 20 consolidated California antitrust class actions? A mere 6.5!
In contrast, I was recently asked to bring a malpractice action against an attorney. The attorney had graduated something like six years earlier from a law school with a low U.S. News & World Report score; did not appear to have distinguished himself academically at that school; and was only practicing law part-time! That attorney, however, managed to have an AVVO rating of 10!
Here is another example. California's Third District Court of Appeal recently "bench-slapped" an attorney as it resolved an appeal in an opinion of some six paragraphs. The court wrote: "[C]ounsel fails to articulate the standard of review on appeal . . . does not provide an accurate statutory citation in support of the proposition that the judgment is appealable. . . [and] does not satisfy counsel's duty to provide adequate legal authority . . . . In light of counsel's egregious violations of basic appellate norms, we affirm the judgment without discussing the merits." That attorney had an AVVO rating of 6.8 (which AVVO translates to "good").
Many attorneys with high AVVO ratings appear to spend inordinate amounts of time engaging in the faux practice of law. AVVO allows site users to post questions. Many of these questions are from site visitors seeking free legal advice. Rather than spend time litigating in courts, some attorneys spend time "answering" posted questions. Some of them may be bored, but some may be consciously seeking to raise their AVVO ratings or otherwise raise their visibility. The "answers," however, are offered in a manner designed to preclude them from being held liable for error.
Many lawyers on AVVO appear to be horse-trading professional endorsements. Take a look at a high rated AVVO attorney. Many will have a series of "endorsements" from other attorneys. What is the basis for the endorsement? Many lawyers are "endorsed" by attorneys whom they "endorsed," suggesting attorneys are implicitly reaching agreements with each other to raise their ratings. Look further and you will often notice that the endorser and endorsee lawyers practice in different states and in different fields of law, so there is no realistic basis for the compliment. To rationalize their endorsements (and the possibility of drawing a cross-endorsement), attorneys sometimes point to "good answers" posted to AVVO question boards! Suddenly attorneys fresh out of law school are leaders of the bar!
In sum, many attorneys with low AVVO ratings are persons whom any honest attorney would acknowledge are "go-to attorneys" in their field of practice. Conversely, many attorneys who have nothing obvious to commend themselves have somehow managed to obtain ratings of "10." Beware AVVO.