I found an interesting post at the The Amateur Law Professor. Apparently, Federal and State judges are seeing a large disparity in the quality of representation between plaintiff and defense counsel in personal injury/malpractice cases. What is troubling is the fact that judges are finding defendants to be better represented than plaintiffs. Justin Walsh, one of the authors of The Amateur Law Professor, concluded with a call to the plaintiff’s bar:
We have GOT to do a better job of prepping out cases. Just like big firms, we have a huge workload. But in our big cases, we need to take the time to prepare just as hard as they do, just as many hours logged into the specific case, not just the overall caseload. I see far too often, attorneys on the defensive in times where they should have been on the offensive. I realize there are pragmatics as to income flow, but if we worked our good cases just as much as they did, we’d be much better set for defeating a summary judgment and much better set for trial.
I concur completely with Justin, but would also add that we, the entire plaintiff’s bar, needs to dispense with the myth the personal injury cases are an easy to bring and settle. There are too many personal injury lawyers that adhere to a view that all they have to do is file suit and the defendant will roll over and settle the case. The fact of the matter is that a personal injury lawyer must “work up” a personal injury case from start to finish and never let up. What many plaintiff attorneys forget is that it is their burden to show that the defendant was liable and should therefore compensate the plaintiff for his or her damages.
An offshoot of this myth is the argument, “well, the more time I spend on the case, the less profit the firm will receive.” I dislike this argument on several grounds, namely that it puts the firm’s financial needs over the well-being of the client. But this argument also assumes that the case is easy and it is only a matter of time before the defendant settles. An attorney that assumes his or her case is easy and feels that their effort is not needed runs the risk of being blindsided by clever and creative defense counsel.