Protecting the rights of the injured is a fantastic “why” that your practice can serve a purpose.
The personal injury law definitely has a negative stigma on it. For lawyers, buying this stereotype can negatively impact your career. The aim of this post is to explain how I see legal practice in this area and how changing your perspective can have a positive impact on your practice and your life.
If you ever read motivational materials, a common theme is purpose. Success trainers indicate why the “why” drives you. It is the reason for your actions and therefore for your success.
What is the purpose of exercising personal injury law? What is the “why” behind the decision to represent plaintiffs? The answer, of course, depends on who answers. And there is no shortage of valid answers.
For example, many young personal injury attorneys go into this specialty to try cases. Others respond because there is a lot of money to be made. Others want to “do something good” or represent the rights of those who would otherwise have no access to the legal system. The answers are plentiful. However, it is important to understand whatever your answer is. Your actions should be consistent with these beliefs.
Many lawyers choose an area but have conflicting views about that particular area or their role in it. Imagine a young lawyer looking to make big bucks and who believes that the personal injury law can get him there. However, he holds other conflicting beliefs such as “ambulance hunters are the lowest kind of lawyer” or “good lawyers shouldn’t have to do business”. How do you think these beliefs will affect his career?
I speak from experience. I wanted to make a lot of money in the mid-1990s, but I also thought that personal injury law was not high on the prestige list of legal specialties. The result was a half-hearted approach to the practice. And it stayed that way until I decided to look objectively at my beliefs and realized that they could be changed at any time.
Investigate the conflict
So where did that dingy lawyer come from who’s chasing the picture of an ambulance? We all heard the goofy stories in law school about the attorney using Velcro on the back of his business card so he could stick to an injured person lying on a stretcher.
Ambulance. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Scott Sanchez. Listed as public domain.
To me, these stories show personal injury attorneys as lawyers who would take advantage of someone in a vulnerable condition. We certainly weren’t raised to take advantage of other people. These stories and our internal compass of right and wrong make up this conflict.
But the lure of riches is also tempting, as is the relative ease with which you can enter this arena, especially as a young lawyer. I suspect that most personal injury litigation attorneys have had to deal with this issue at some point in their careers. If an attorney is not investigated, he can very easily pursue this focus half-heartedly. This would probably not be the best recipe for success.
Why are personal injury attorneys so shabby?
What Makes Personal Injury Lawyers Contemptible? Surely there has to be a basis for the claim.
I suspect the reasons for this are because a defendant’s negative personal experience was sued. This defendant, unaware that there is a system of compensation for accident victims, takes the entire experience as a personal affront. He / she shares the story with others who also take the opportunity to be offended, and so it goes on.
Or maybe it’s the lawyer movies that we see where the outcome of the case is COMPLETELY dependent on the skills of the lawyers, not the facts of the case. Legal tricks and gullible juries make every result possible in the media. A seasoned lawyer on television can overcome any pesky factual pattern, don’t you know?
Add to this a small dose of propaganda from the insurance company calling for a reform of the crime because they don’t want to pay claims even though this is exactly the business they are in (accident risk insurance). The portrayal of personal injury law as manipulated by bad lawyers who want something for nothing tries to discourage potential litigants, limit liability and justify rising premiums.
Regardless, we lawyers are not immune to negative beliefs associated with our psyche. We should know better, but somewhere in depth we can corroborate these associations by imagining a well-trained personal injury attorney who follows the ambulance to the emergency room to do business. Believe it or not, these visualizations can have a real impact on our thoughts and actions.
Are some lawyers chasing clients in the hospital waiting room? I suspect some do. Do all personal injury attorneys do it? I have never done it before. Nobody I know has ever done anything like this to get a customer. So, like all beliefs, belief is not entirely correct. And if they are not entirely correct, accepting that belief is a matter of choice.
Instead, choose the following:
Society understands that accidents happen. There is a system in place to protect against this risk. Within this system work insurance agents, actuaries, P&C insurance agents, plaintiffs attorneys, defense attorneys, claims adjusters, court clerks, judges, and a host of others. All of these parties work within the system. A personal injury attorney is just a cog, just a player on the show. Lawyers are not responsible for fraudulent claims. In fact, fraudulent claims harm the plaintiffs’ attorneys the most as they risk time and money to pursue the claim.
Just do your job
Call your customers, gather the information they need, tell them about their rights, make a claim, make your case – do your job. It really is that easy to let the system deliver the results, because that’s what it’s designed for.
Don’t worry about the little things, you are not the “winner” of the case, the facts are. You don’t have to be shabby to do well in the personal injury area. In fact, the most successful personal injury litigation attorneys are the most humble, down to earth, and down to earth you would ever want to meet. You would never be confused with this bad, silky-suitable image from our thoughts.
The point is, as a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney, you can do really well, but with the belief that you are part of a noble endeavor – helping injured victims fairly and fairly for their injuries. Not because they are greedy and will be on an easy road after settlement. No amount of money would be worth real permanent injury. Rather, compensation is part of the system that is supposed to protect individuals from harm that is not their fault. And this system was designed by and for all of us to protect us.
Protecting the rights of the injured is a fantastic “why” that your practice can serve a purpose. As we examined above, beliefs and intentions can sometimes contradict one another.
If you’ve never had conflicting beliefs about personal injury practice, this post isn’t going to mean that much to you. However, if you have subscribed to the propaganda set out by others who had their own agenda and found that acceptance is negatively affecting your practice and your life, these words can serve as a wake up call and enable you to have better beliefs choose area. Then you can watch your approach and results change accordingly.
Thank you for listening.