I advise people to avoid lawyers who have pictures of themselves on billboards and buses, who advertise on television, who have someone show up at the emergency department, or who make telephone calls soliciting a case. The latter couple of solicitations methods are actually illegal, but that does not mean it does not happen.
In my experience, a high percentage of lawyers or law firms that engage in billboard advertising, bus advertising, television advertising, and even radio advertising are operating case mills. There is often no continuity between the lawyer who interviewed the client and signed up the case and the lawyer who was watching over the assembly of the case, if in fact, there even was a lawyer doing that.
These law firms often have a paraprofessional or paralegals or a legal assistant operating with little oversight. To me, this is an abomination and it’s really antithetical to the way we practice law here at Casper & de Toledo. We try to maintain continuity and treat each case as an individualized case. We do not run assembly lines, and we really give all of our clients our personal attention.
The information highway has provided tremendous advances in access to information compared to the “old days” with advertisements in the Yellow Pages and the use of tacky television ads by some. Now a consumer can read about a lawyer being considered for retention. There is information not only about education, but also experience, professional recognition and achievements, awards, publications of articles, lectures given to professional audiences locally and nationally, as well as client testimonials. A consumer may have some difficulty distinguishing some of the achievements but the “crème de la crème” (i.e. the most selective) would include: Best Lawyers in America™, Martindale-Hubbell™ (almost all lawyers have a rating of AV, BV & CV. The V means the lawyer is considered to be ethical; the A, B or C works just like school grades), American Board of Trial Advocates, National Board of Trial Advocacy, and the American College of Trial Lawyers. These organizations and recognitions are based on a number of factors, but weigh heavily upon ratings and recommendations from judges and other lawyers in the field. A less prestigious recognition is the “Super Lawyer” designation. There are a host of other recognitions that largely have arisen to permit lawyers to purchase credentials.
A consumer can also request information about attendance at Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) programs. To me, it’s shocking how little CLE Connecticut lawyers attend and their uproar over plans to institute mandatory CLE.
For Plaintiff trial lawyers, the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice offers many CLE programs as do other organizations that focus upon a particular area or practice. One such organization is the North American Brain Injury Society.
First, not every personal injury lawyer is capable of assembling a complex case with over two hundred or more exhibits.
Second, not every personal injury lawyer is capable of managing digital evidence files and displaying the digital evidence at trial.
Third, not every personal injury lawyer is capable or willing to advance $200,000 or more to pay the expenses of handling a complex personal injury case through trial.
Fourth, not personal injury lawyer is capable of sustaining the effort required to try a case for 4-6 weeks or more.
Firth, consumers should know and understand that once they hire a lawyer, it isn’t necessarily forever. I get calls from a number of people who are into a case with a lawyer who was in over his head, and this is something I see quite often in brain injury litigation. While I would much prefer to start a case from its beginning because it is very difficult to pick up the pieces and get things done correctly after the passage of significant time after an injury, it can be done, and the client has the absolute right to change lawyers.
When a case is transferred in mid-stream, there are systems in place for compensating the first lawyer and division of the attorney’s fees that are earned. It generally would not cost any more to switch lawyers, although there may be additional expenses incurred for proper preparation and retention of different or additional experts witnesses. I currently have several of these cases in my office.
Notwithstanding a client’s right to switch lawyers, if I’m approached by someone seeking to make a switch, if I think the current lawyer is not only competent but also handling the case properly, I attempt to resolve the doubt and conflict so that the existing attorney-client relationship can continue.
It can be very difficult to take over a case when it is in midstream, so I am always looking to do the best I can for someone making that call.
For more information on Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (203) 325-8600 today.