Last year Tim Tebow was in the NFL draft. He was a very good college quarterback and played on some great teams. Beyond that, he has been called Jesus 2.0 for some of the charity work (see helping sick babies in the Phillipines) and the way he carries himself as a servant of God. And there is no disputing he was a winner and a leader. He's certainly a player that people either really loved or couldn't stand because he was so over-exposed.
Succeeding in the NFL often has nothing to do with how good of a player you were in college. There is a huge list of Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans who never did anything in the pros. Simply put, college football and the NFL are two different games.
When evaluating Tebow's prospects for the NFL, experts were mostly in agreement that his arm wasn't strong enough, he wasn't accurate enough, he had terrible mechanics and his rah-rah motivational talks he was famous for in college wouldn't play well in the pros. Recently, Merril Hoge of ESPN (and formerly of the Bears) ripped Tebow saying that he'll never succeed and that if he didn't have the hype he would have been a 6th or 7th round pick instead of the first rounder that he is.
In Tebow's defense, he seems like a genuinely good guy and hasn't really been given the chance to succeed on the field. Certainly guys that were rated lower than him have done well before. But if you could choose a QB for your favorite team, you'd probably go with someone that most people rate higher like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Phillip Rivers.
So what does this have to do with hiring a lawyer? When evaluating Tebow independently, most experts point out his flaws and focus on the things that are actually measurable. Basically the evaluation is a predictor of success based on looking at past players they have evaluated. There's no guarantee of a result based on their evaluation, but if you are a betting person, you'd listen to what they have to say.
Same holds true when hiring a lawyer. You should look at predictors of success in making your decision. The key is knowing what those predictors are.
Some of them are simple. For example, I almost never recommend a general practice lawyer for a case that is beyond basic. If you have a DUI and hire a lawyer who also handles divorce, bankruptcy, probate, personal injury and real estate closings, you are probably not giving yourself the best chance possible for a good result. On the other hand, if you hire a former prosecutor who does nothing but DUI defense in Illinois, then you are likely creating your best chance for a win. That's not say that the general practice guy can't win or the "specialist" can't lost. Heck, Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick and most Bears fans can remember the not so glory days of Cade McNown. But over time I strongly believe that the person who rates higher will do better.
As a consumer it's hard to know what to consider beyond that. There is a Harvard educated injury attorney that I know. He gets lots of clients because people hear Harvard and assume he's a genius. Well he's also socially awkward, lazy and has a terrible reputation. And most consumers wouldn't know it, but generally speaking, the "smart" lawyers from Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, etc. typically don't become personal injury attorneys because they can get better jobs right out of law school and never end up on that track. It's the dummies like me that went to Chicago-Kent, John Marshall, DePaul and Loyola that typically represent people in those cases. It's similar to picking Tebow just because he went to Florida. There has to be more than just that.
Even when you get down to considering a narrowly focused lawyer with a great track record, you need to figure what's right for you. The Broncos picked Tebow last year. They might have rated a QB highly this year, but wouldn't take him because it's not a need. In the same vein, you need to find the right lawyer for your needs. There are some divorce firms in Chicago that are incredible at what they do. But they also charge an arm and a leg. If you have an agreed case, it wouldn't make sense to pay them five times as much just to get their great reputation. I also recommend some of the personal injury law firms in Chicago that have won scores of multi-million dollar cases. But if a caller came to me with a case worth $100,000, I would never recommend those firms because they aren't going to give a case like that their all. There are plenty of other firms that would be better and get the same results.
Nothing of course guarantees anything. Cam Newton was the first pick over all this year and may be a bust like Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf and others before him. But even if it doesn't work out, that doesn't mean the choice was wrong. Because predicting success based on tangible reasons is the best way to go about choosing a football player or choosing a lawyer. And in both cases, you won't realize you made the wrong decision until it's too late.
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