Personal injury attorneys deal with the aftermath of injuries, accidents and disasters. They want to improve the world and bring justice to the hurting. They too often ignore the opportunities to improve themselves and their law firms, despite the benefits this brings. Here are 6 tips that will help you improve as a personal injury lawyer.
Choose Your Clients Wisely
Too many personal injury lawyers take any case in the hope of winning it. You should actually apply standards to your clients and require them to do the same. For example, you shouldn’t take on frivolous lawsuits unless you want to get a reputation for being that type of attorney. And stay away from the people who file lawsuits against every business in town for minor regulatory issues.
Master the Back Office
Too many personal injury law firms dedicate time and attention to recruiting clients but ignore the back office. They don’t manage cases well, so they miss critical deadlines or rush to meet them. They don’t use legal accounting software and maintain the books correctly, though personal injury lawyers, in particular, get hit with penalties if they mismanage trusts for disabled clients.
This is aside from the tragic mistake of law firms failing to track billable hours and follow up on collections, creating cash crunches that sometimes kill law firms.
Treat Everyone with Professionalism
If you yell at a court clerk, they’re not going to give paperwork related to your case their best effort. It’s important that you learn how to act in court for your benefit and for your clients as well. In a worst-case scenario, things are lost or misplaced conveniently, to your detriment. Then there’s the fact that the judge may be inclined against you for finding out you mistreated a clerk or made a rude remark to the bailiff.
Don’t forget to treat witnesses and clients with the utmost respect. You don’t want the headlines to read that you verbally abused an alleged victim in court. If you personally attack an expert witness instead of their expertise or the source they’re using, you’ll certainly never get them to come to your defense when you need their expertise.
If you make inflated claims as to your success rate or the payment a client may receive, you may secure their business. However, you guarantee a disappointed client even if you win the case and ensure negative online reviews if you don’t win. Manage expectations from the odds of winning to what the person would receive. Respond in a timely fashion to client communications, but don’t promise them day or night if you’re not actually going to answer a 6 AM phone call. If you have a bad case that will probably lose if you go to trial, encourage the client to take a settlement so they at least get something instead of promising to fight until you can’t anymore.
Don’t Believe Everything You See on the Internet
As a lawyer, you have to have a good dose of scepticism if you want to be successful. Just because something is on the internet, doesn’t make it true. In fact, a British man was recently proven innocent by Facebook messages that his sister in law found after he’d served several years in prison. The lawyers for the other side accepted altered images of the “conversation” and presented it as evidence, and the accused attorney accepted them as fact.
In reality, there was a whole conversation regarding emotional pain from the breakup after which he apologized for her emotional distress; she altered the messages to prove her case. Just because someone presents texts or social media posts as evidence does not mean they should not be vetted.
Then there is the fact that doctored images and biased blog posts are frequently posted on the internet, though they may be treated as evidence by attorneys and the public. The last thing you want to do is have your client’s disability case derailed because someone else used their picture on a dating website while talking about a love of swimming and surfing.
All these tips should help you become a better lawyer and gain a solid reputation in your field of practice. Make sure that you take the time to develop these traits if you want to be successful and bring more clients to your firm.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thomas G Ferrini
Thomas G Ferrini is a partner at WBTB law firm, established in 1987, located in Dover, New Hampshire. He has years of experience in personal injury cases and have gained a solid reputation in the community and has recovered millions of dollars in awards for his clients. He enjoys sharing his knowledge on law blogs.