- Personal Attention. Avoid volume firms. They are often understaffed and ill- equipped to provide the time and attention that your case requires. These personal injury “factories” can have literally thousands of files and are often little more than settlement clearing houses.
They also tend to have a revolving door. Unless you have a million dollar case, you will be passed off to the firm’s younger, less experienced associates that don’t stick around until the conclusion of your case.
At volume firms, it is common to have several different lawyers that come and go during the life of your case. They will never get to know your case or you as an individual.
Don’t settle for this type of treatment. You deserve better. This is not how you want your personal injury lawsuit handled.
- Practical Experience. Law school is required for admission to the bar, and to teach future lawyers the fundamentals of research, writing and procedure. Practically speaking however, it does little to nothing to prepare lawyers to handle actual cases. Real life experience is the real teacher and that’s why you want to go with a seasoned attorney who’s been practicing for years and has an excellent track record.When speaking with an attorney for the first time, ask about his or her track record, work experience, and accomplishments that relate to your particular type of case. Inquire about jury verdicts, motion practice and appeals that your lawyer has won.
Those are the things that will matter down the road, not whether they were top ten percent in their law school class.
- A Spotless Record.Avoid any lawyer or firm that has grievances or malpractice claims against them. Make sure the lawyer you hire has done right by former clients. Any attorney that has left a trail of disgruntled former clients in their wake should be avoided at all costs.
Check with the grievance committee in your county to make sure that your attorney has committed no acts of professional misconduct.
You should also do an internet search for reviews written by former clients. Look at what actual clients have said about the attorney before you sign on. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
- Passion.I am always dumbfounded by the so-called professional who speaks of his or her life’s work with the zest it takes to order take-out food. Face it, you are going to be connected to this lawyer for several years. Find someone who loves what they do and is actually excited at the prospect of going after those responsible for your pain and suffering.
Your trust must be earned. Your business is a privilege, not an entitlement. Make sure your lawyer shows you that your case matters. If not, move on. There are plenty of quality personal injury firms that would be happy to fight to get you justice..
- Scrappy.There is a saying “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog that matters..”. Lawsuits are war, not love fests. You need a lawyer that has a fight in him.
You needn’t settle for a lawyer that will allow you (or him) to be pushed around by the other side. Insurance companies and their attorneys are bullies. Demand someone that will stand toe to toe with them for the duration of your lawsuit. Make sure the advocate you hire is battle tested and will not fold when things get rough.
I hold to the maxim that “he who blinks first loses….”. Insist on a lawyer with a poker face…and a backbone.