Finding a good trial attorney can be tricky.
Referrals are a good start, but just because they did a good job for someone else does not ensure they are the right lawyer for you.
A lot of attorney’s have free consultations. This is a good start to get a “feel” for the attorney and see if he/she will be a good fit. During the consultation, make sure they are paying attention to EVERYTHING you are saying and really taking it in. They should be asking questions and preferrably taking notes. It is not a bad sign if they do not have a complete “game plan” immediately. They will have to do research to make your case. However, they should be able to spot issues. A good sign that they are doing this will be in their questioning to you. They need all the relevant information in order to make your case. You should also explain your expectations to the attorney so that there is not a communication error.
You also want to be comfortable with whoever you choose to be your attorney. You need to be comfortable talking to them and that they will be able to handle your case appropriately. While in a consultation you should also be evaluating their confidence level. This does matter in a courtroom. They need to be comfortable with confrontation in the event that you have to go to trial.
After you have decided on a lawyer, make sure that they keep with the expectations you explained in the consultation to the best of their ability. (They can not make your case something it is not) Make sure they maintain good communication with you and are willing to answer any questions you have along the way in a timely manner. They should be keeping you updated on the status of your case regularly. Also, if they do not automatically offer it, ask to view any pleadings, motions, ect. that they file or submit to the other party on your behalf. Read carefully and make sure that you agree. They are working on YOUR behalf and you need to make sure things are being handled appropriately. Make sure that they are doing their “homework” on your case. They should be able to give you detailed information on you case, the current status and advice on your next move. (Sometimes your next move may be waiting on a response or the court)
If your attorney stops returning your calls or you start having communication problems you need to make an appointment with them. In the appointment you need to explain that you are unhappy and if they do not change and get better, you need to try and find a new attorney. In some cases, this may be close to impossible, especially if you are about to go to trial. But, in the event that finding another attorney is reasonable you are entitled to all the information on your case and you should begin again with consultations.