Look for psychological factors that balance deep insecurity with positive outcomes.
#1 – A personal and emotional commitment to justice. Every single injury attorney who is worth their weight in gold has the same childhood story of being bullied and being told by their parent to go outside and stand up for yourself. All of us have that story in common. We, at some point, had to fight for dignity. For justice. To stand up for what is right. Look for that. Fighters are a breed and we are trained in our youth.
#2 – The need to compete. Every great trial attorney has two conflicting needs. The first is a need to compete at anything. We compete with our friends at golf or fishing. We compete with our workout partners on who can do the most push-ups. We won’t let our own kids win at Go Fish. In fact, we don’t even like to play competitive games with our kids because we can’t let them win and we fear that shoving losing on them will hurt their egos! The second is the reason behind the first. It is deep insecurity that losing will detract from your right to take up space on this Earth. I don’t mean we have to win because we like winning. Don’t ever hire a trial lawyer who deals with losing well. Being ultra-competitive is an awful burden, but I am that way, my wife is that way, all my kids are that way. We make sure everyone knows, losing is for losers. Never hire a loser, unless you like losing.
#3 – The true love of other people with a burning dislike of anyone who wants to hurt your client. To be a great trial lawyer is to love your clients. It is also to love the Jury. Love the Judge. Love the bailiff. People who love other people are generally likable. We like to talk to people and explain in normal terms why we think we are right. All that being said, juries like us and say things like “That guy seems like a good guy. The type of guy I’d go have a beer with.” However down deep we seethe with hatred toward the Defense position and the Defense experts. We feel they are evil and scum and want to show our friends on the jury that they are not to be trusted. That anger and dislike need to be strong enough to be palpable in the courtroom. That dichotomy makes for good fireworks on cross-exam and also good convincing drama for a jury. Look for that when interviewing your injury lawyer. Ask what they think about defense doctors.
#4 – A commitment to the field of law. Everyone wants to be an injury lawyer. If you are a divorce lawyer, a criminal defense lawyer, an immigration lawyer. Everyone thinks “Hey I can get my client some money from this auto accident claim. That seems easy.” Beware of that lawyer! They are the fools who will get your case settled for a lot less than you deserve. How do you know who is committed to being an injury lawyer? Look for lawyers who are members and leaders in the Injury Lawyer community. Are they members of the local Justice Association? Are they members of the American Justice Association? What “Level” members are they. Are they Eagle members of the Florida Justice Association? Are they Leaders Forum Members in the American Justice Association? That type of financial and time commitment to the craft of being a great injury attorney will pay off big time for you as a client.
#5 – Experience counts. Ask your lawyer about his trial experience. About this cases worth over $1,000,000. Have they ever tried a case and won over that amount of money? Have they ever tried a case and won punitive damages? How many cases have they tried? Were they either a prosecutor or public defender early in their career? That is not necessary but the experience of government service early in an attorney’s career is invaluable and carries trial lawyers through their careers.
#6 – Make sure there is an Organization behind the lawyer. Lawyering is a business. It runs like a business. There are administration issues. There are marketing problems. There are banking regulations and accounting issues to deal with. There are Tech issues galore. The one-person law firm simply can’t effectively compete with the Insurance Industry. No one person has the time or capacity to run a caseload and run an office and manage family life and manage to sleep. They run ragged all the time. They have terrible time constraints at all levels.
The solo attorney, without significant staff, has no capacity to do any of these tasks well. They can’t manage their staff, be the professional lawyer, be the firm marketer, and be the company tech wizard at the same time and give their clients the professional and intelligent academic service for which they were employed. I am sure I will get some flake from solo lawyers for this statement but it is the truth. If I were picking a trial lawyer to work on my mother’s injury case I would pick one who has a well-developed machine behind them. Now within that machine, I would want to see a serious and consistent set of “core values” or a mission statement. I would also want to know they use vertical market case management software (there are loads of these products, like Client Profiles, Needles, or Trial Works) but they must use one of them. Finally, they must have a significant and impressive Web site. Not because that matters a whit, but because it indicates a mature and developed marketing arm that is not dependent on my lawyer doing daily and not working on my injury case.
Those are the top things I would look for in my Injury Attorney. That is what I would want and that is what you should get!