Professional websites are a good start. In addition to LinkedIn (as Chris mentions) and the NAPP (as George White mentions), you can find a lot of similar information on the bio page of a law firm website. These sorts of professional sites will usually tell you about the individual's:
- years of experience
- technical degree and level of education
- practitioner status (patent agent vs. patent attorney)
- advertised area of expertise
However, there is other information you seek. Once you're in contact with someone, your best route is to ask them these questions:
- Can you send me a few granted patents and/or published patent applications that represent your work with mechanical devices?
- Can you send me representative patent drawings? Do you perform this work in-house or do you contract it out? (A lot of people will have the drawings done by an outside specialist who they contract.)
- What fraction of your patent drafting work is done with mechanical devices?
If you go with a large firm, it might also be worth asking how much of the work will be performed by the partner vs. the less experienced associate. (There's a tradeoff here--you don't necessarily want the partner doing all of the work because his/her time is far more expensive than an associate's time.) However, if you ask a big firm for a representative patent as a sample of their work, you might not get a patent that was produced by the same person who will be doing your work.
Usually, in the patent world, there's a divide between (a) pharmaceutical/ biotech and (b) software/ mechanical/ electrical. Mechanical devices are typically viewed as the easiest patents to write. This is for good reason: they are simpler and typically more straightforward. This is all by way of saying that you should have some initial suspicion toward a pharma/biotech patent attorney who offers to write/prosecute your application, but you don't really need to hold this suspicion toward a software/electrical patent attorney.
It's not uncommon for a company or inventor to use an attorney who is not local. To keep costs some many companies will use a seasoned patent attorney/agent who used to work at a big firm but now practices solo and lives in a cheaper part of the country. All other things being equal, a patent agent will usually be less expensive than a patent attorney, and a solo practitioner will be less expensive than a large firm.
(I am no expert, and this response is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney or legal expert to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Laws can differ dramatically from country to country, state to state, and technology field to technology field.