I get told many times a week from people calling me for a lawyer referral that they don’t want to drive in to the City.  They live in the burbs and want the perfect lawyer in their area.

Often this is possible for cases like divorce, DUI, criminal defense, estate planning and minor civil litigation.  There are plenty of attorneys in the burbs that do an incredible job with those cases.

But for some cases, you really have no choice but to hire a lawyer in Chicago, especially if you want to give yourself the best chance of a good result.  There is a reason that more than 30,000 lawyers are in Chicago.  That’s where most of the action takes place.

For example, if you have a case with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations, you’ll want to get an attorney downtown.  That’s because all of the IDPR formal hearings take place in the Loop, so the lawyers that really focus their practice on that area of law are downtown.

The same would hold true if you have a Cook County probate case.  There are some attorneys in the suburbs that say they handle probate, but the truth is that the only courthouse is at the Daley Center, so the lawyers that really focus on this area of law every day will be downtown.  Otherwise they’d spend so much time commuting that it wouldn’t be effective for their practice and would cost you, the client, more money as you’d have to pay travel expenses.

Even for cases like medical malpractice, you’ll find that the best lawyer for your case is usually in Chicago.  Those cases are time intensive, expensive and difficult.  The hard truth is that there are really only around 10 or so firms that have a really impressive track record of success.  Most of those are downtown because that’s where most litigation takes place.

No matter what type of case you have though, the good news is that you almost never have to go in to the City if you hire a lawyer there.  The reality is that whether an attorney is two minutes from your home or an hour away, almost everything you do with them will be over the phone and via e-mail.    In the bigger picture though, you want to give yourself the best chance of a good result.  Sometimes that’s an attorney down the street.  But for some cases you have to deal with the reality that the best lawyer for you is in Chicago.

Written by Michael Helfand