Should you Hire a Big Firm or a Small Firm Injury Lawyer?
If you have entrusted your case to one of the larger personal injury firms, your situation may be pushed onto an associate who has nothing financially to gain by handling your case aggressively. The famous partner who is known for several multi-million dollar jury verdicts may simply not have the time for your case. Many young lawyers are filled with energy for effective battle with the insurance companies. But many are handling a hundred or more other files, and yours may be placed on a very slow assembly line. They may be inexperienced, stressed out, and unprepared to handle your case properly.
Worse, the associate may have no financial stake in your case. The arrangements vary from firm to firm, but with the vast majority, the only lawyer who has a financial interest in your case is the one who brought the case into the firm. The lowly associate who actually ends up processing the case is undoubtedly on straight salary. His or her financial incentive is to turn over his or her cases with the least personal bother, even if this means settling the case for less than it is worth.
If, however, you retain a solo practitioner or small partnership, the lawyer who handles your case will actually receive the attorney’s fees earned on the case. Nothing motivates like a financial incentive. Even though lawyers are ethically bound to zealously represent the interests of all their clients, human nature should tell you that you will do best if your lawyer has something to gain by prosecuting your case aggressively and forcefully.
On the other hand, hiring an attorney from a larger, personal injury firm may have some very important advantages. A large firm typically has resources that the solo practitioner or small partnership does not. A large firm typically has a larger support staff than a smaller firm. Further, the attorney or attorneys handling your case should have access to the expertise of all the firm’s personal injury lawyers. In a large firm, one lawyer may have expertise in products liability cases. Another lawyer may be the medical malpractice specialist. A third lawyer may be a star in front of the jury. The large firm practitioner has the luxury of being able to call on these other lawyers for help with the cases he or she is handling. A solo practitioner may have to rely on outside attorneys for help with novel or difficult issues or with complex jury trials.
These days, however, the playing field is much more level. The resources available on the Internet provide the solo or small firm practitioner with access to materials and experts that were previously unavailable. For example, many trial lawyers associations now have listservs-computer-basedsounding boards used by professionals of all kinds, as well as individuals with a special interest in a particular subject. Trial lawyers have listservs that allow them to share information in a dynamic format concerning the battlefront issues in personal injury litigation.
In years past, finding the answer to a complex legal question usually required a trip to the law library. Now, this type of question can be answered in mere minutes through a listserv. It gives almost instant access to the top personal injury lawyers in the area.
Legal research materials are also readily available on the Internet. It used to be that a big firm with a large law library had the advantage over the solo attorney. These days, the material is all available on the Internet. For the price of belonging to a local bar association, an attorney now has instant access to virtually all of the relevant case law and legal digests.
For the same reasons, the playing field is much more level between the small plaintiff’s firms and the insurance defense firms. The latter typically have many more lawyers and larger support staffs. With the easy access to listservs and legal databases via the Internet, the small plaintiff is on more equal footing with the big defense firm.
When it comes to selecting a lawyer, the bottom line, regardless of the size of the firm, is the competence and professionalism of the lawyer or lawyers who will actually handle your case. Whichever type of firm you interview, make sure you ask if the firm’s lawyers use the Internet and belong to and participate regularly in trial lawyer’s listserv.