After an accident in which a person sustains serious bodily injury or after the loss of a loved one due to the negligence that falls upon someone else, the first thing most victims do is seek out legal counsel. In the heat of the moment, injured or grieving, victims can't be expected to be armed with the knowledge of what to do beyond "find a lawyer". It's easy to hire the first attorney who agrees to take a claim on contingency because no money is expected up front, and the ball can get rolling.
As we've previously discussed in our Attorney 101 series, "contingency" simply means the law firm gets paid contingent upon whether or not they win the case for the client. If the attorney doesn't win, no money changes hands. The legal process for Personal Injury claims never sees legal fees paid up front. That is simply not the standard practice for the specialty. Any attorney who pushes a claim of "no money up front!" or "we take your case on contingency!" as if it's a special offer–and not simply to inform the potential client of the practice they may not have been aware existed–should not be taken seriously. Contingency isn't what makes a good Personal Injury attorney.
Looking at contingency differently
Contingency, however, is what simplifies the legal process for accident victims who are already under financial strain post-accident and many will not look beyond this reasonable but standard practice. Medical expenses and lost wages aren't a good combination. That's why an attorney who doesn't ask for money up front is the only thing a majority of accident victims will seek out after they've been injured.
There're a few problems with this line of thinking; the riskiest problem being that not every attorney has equal ability to win a complex case. When a victim retains legal counsel, they need to trust that the person they hired is able to navigate the legal system without excess delays (because let's face it, the Court System should be nicknamed the Continuance System). No case will go off without a hitch, but a Board Certified attorney can handle any legal curve ball they're met with.
An empty wall might mean an empty office
Credentials matter. Board Certified Civil Trial lawyers spend years becoming the highly respected professionals they are. They put the extra hours in. They work their way to the top of their chosen specialty 365 days a year. Aside from work ethic, their morals and personal ethics succeed those of their non-Board Certified peers. When it comes to protecting the rights of clients, their ability to obtain the maximum amount of compensation is exemplary. They're upstanding members of their chosen Bar Association.
Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers began their careers as entry level associates with goals of becoming senior partners from the day they were accepted to law school.
That's because Board Certified doesn't come with the law degree. Board Certified comes from extra hours put in and attention to detail and the determination to achieve the best for each and every client. The Board Certified difference is that while there are many Personal Injury law firms out there, not all of them see clients as more than a case number. A Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer will take fewer cases and put more effort into each one, instead of trying to run a factory of hundreds of cases just to get clients out the door with compensation–but not as much as they may have truly deserved.
Keeping cool in heated arguments
What really separates Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers from their non-Board Certified peers is their ability to maintain their composure in the courtroom. When a Board Certified lawyer goes to trial, they don't go in with the idea that they must raise their voice or become aggressive toward opposing counsel to be heard. A Board Certified lawyer has confidence in their case and the trust of their client. Experienced lawyers know the evidence they present to the judge and jury will speak volumes more than becoming belligerent or demeaning toward opposing counsel. A great attorney is passionate, not a bully. A lawyer who bullies his way through a trial shows a lack of confidence in his case.
Board Certified lawyers know that the courtrooms presented on tv procedurals are not the reality of what happens when the judge slams that gavel down. A judge with time constraints and hundreds of cases to hear won't tolerate a caricature of an attorney or a lawyer who thinks he can insult opposing counsel or the defendant simply because he knows his client was wronged. Board Certified lawyers present their cases and win with clear cut evidence, expert testimony, and a knowledge of the law surrounding their client's claim.
The Board Certified difference
After all is said and done, becoming a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer doesn't happen overnight. The step-by-step process to this distinction was discussed in Hiring an Attorney 101: The Importance of "Board Certified".
Furthermore, what's hanging on your chosen attorney's wall matters. The time and effort they put into their achievements paints a whole picture of who they are as a person and as an attorney. Choosing an attorney who dedicates him or herself to the client in front of them and remains in the moment is the kind of attorney who will obtain the damages deserved by those who have been wronged at the hands of another.
Personal Injury attorneys see hundreds, if not thousands, of life-changing accidents over the course of their career. A Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has the same compassion for the construction worker who lost his leg and the mother who lost her child in the swimming pool ten years into their career as they did the first time they were retained for similar cases is the kind of attorney victims should have on their side.