Why Choose W.J. Ard

We attorneys do not make it easy to engage in comparison shopping. There is no equivalent to the board certification used for doctors. Any attorney can begin a practice in almost any area of the law. Still, there are some general guidelines you can use in choosing an attorney.

Depth of Knowledge

You want an attorney who knows an area well and who keeps up with changes. I participate in various state and national organizations and am well-known for providing updates to my colleagues. Other attorneys have a good idea who is knowledgeable. I have been invited to give presentations to other attorneys and other groups. I have written numerous articles. I have been elected to positions of leadership. Other attorneys frequently contact me for advice. Those are some of the major signals that I have expertise.

Breadth of Knowledge

The world does not come in neatly separated compartments. If you are interested in planning your estate, you need to consider tax matters. Unless you are absolutely certain that you will never need to ask for governmental assistance in paying for nursing home care (already over $100,000 per year in some nursing homes), you need to take Medicaid rules into effect, also. Not every estate planner knows that a home owned directly by the owner is not counted by Medicaid, but a home in a revocable trust is counted. Creditor issues can be a concern also. Depending on how you leave property for your beneficiaries, your creditors may be able to claim a significant portion to pay for debts you owed them while you are alive. If you help out someone else as a trustee or agent under a power of attorney, you need to be aware of new criminal laws passed to address financial exploitation. These laws are very broad may trap people who had no idea that they were doing anything wrong.

One of the major advantages I can offer you is a wide awareness of many areas of the law, which might affect your concerns. Few attorneys have developed a reputation in as many relevant areas.

Respect of Peers

Attorneys whom other attorneys rely on are more likely to be able to provide quality services. I frequently am asked to give private advice and public presentations and to write articles. I have been elected to leadership positions state-wide and in the Lansing and Ann Arbor areas.

Communication Skills

Communication is generally critical to success. Legal documents do not speak for themselves; someone has to use them. If your desires are not clearly expressed, they are unlikely to be followed. You need to understand your situation and what you can do, what you shouldn’t do, what you need to watch out, and when. If you name agents to carry out your desires, they need to understand them as well. Much legal work involves interactions with others. Quite often the job of the attorney is to explain why you are right in disputes. Without successful communication, most legal work fails.

I have many years of experience in effective communication, including time spent before I became an attorney. I have developed and conducted training programs designed to help others to communicate more accurately and effectively. I have a Ph.D. in linguistics, the study of languages, and know both the practical and theoretical bases of effective communication.

I am particularly concerned about the usability of documents. It does little good if each word and each sentence can be understood, if the reader cannot find the information she needs quickly and understands it. Unfortunately, some legal documents have gotten rather long and usability is an increasingly important concern.


Experience is certainly important, but time alone is not sufficient. Many people played golf for years but were never as good as Tiger Woods was as a teenager. What matters more is quality experience. I have demonstrated a history of quality service for more than a decade in many areas of the law.


Not everyone has the same attitude. You need to choose an attorney with an attitude that you are comfortable with. For me, it is important that clients’ desires and needs are satisfied.

I am particularly concerned about prevention of potential problems. With elderly clients in particular, there is a real risk of potential financial exploitation or other types of abuse. I believe it is essential for both older clients and their families to consider appropriate preventive measures. This can both prevent harm and can help ward off any false reports of misconduct by a family member, a win-win situation. It is much safer to address potential risks, rather than ignoring them and hope they do not happen.

People and attorneys can differ in how aggressive they want to be in pushing the envelope. Generally it is better to work things out amicably rather than rushing into conflicts, but conflicts cannot always be avoided.

The best thing to do is talk with a potential attorney and see how your attitudes mesh. This is usually much more important than in choosing other professionals. If I needed emergency heart surgery, I might not be concerned with much more than the expertise of the surgeon. Her or his bedside manner and whether she or he is honest are much less important. With an attorney, you need to be comfortable with the working relationship.