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SpringBokCock
South Carolina Fan
Columbia, SC
Member since Oct 2003
3093 posts

re: Attorneys: What goes into your decision to become either Defense or Prosecution?
Plaintiff guy here.

I was exceptionally conservative in law school, so i had no intention whatsoever of going to the plaintiff side. When I started job hunting, I discovered that no civil defense firms hire older lawyers (I was in my 30's) so I couldn't get one of those big firm jobs i wanted. The defense firms wanted younger guys and gals who will happily sit in a cubicle cranking out motions and billing hours waiting on their turn to see a court room.

I ended up getting hired by a plaintiff's firm with a big TV budget. Despite the pressure to settle quickly, I found I really loved representing real people with real problems. I started rejecting the easy settlements and trying cases. I got great results for my clients, but the firm didn't like my methods, so they fired me.

I opened my own practice -- 15 years ago -- doing plaintiff's personal injury and workers' comp. Getting fired was a blessing as it gave me the opportunity to do my own thing the way it needed to be done.

I love what I do. I genuinely help people. On the workers' comp side we get injured workers money to pay the bills when they can't work; surgery to help them get back to work; and compensation to make up their losses -- especially if they can't go back to work. On the personal injury side, we don't handle "MIST" cases (insurance company lingo for minor-impact soft-tissue cases). We help people put their lives back together after a catastrophic accident -- often involving eighteen-wheelers.

I get that for a lot of people I'm the bad guy. I don't care. My clients don't feel that way (many of whom thought they would never ever hire a personal injury lawyer until it happened to them). My opponents in the defense bar don't feel that way either (with a few exceptions!).

More than anything I do this because I genuinely get to help people in a meaningful way. If it were only about money, then I would settle more and litigate less (you don't have to work near as hard). I also love the intellectual challenge, the adrenaline rush of trying cases, the emotion of winning and - surprisingly - of losing, the gratitude of my clients, and the respect of my peers.

I really enjoy the fact that when you win as a plaintiff's lawyer, you really win. You help your client and get paid! I would not be happy with a win being saving an insurance company money and screwing over someone who needs redress -- only to then have the insurance company I just saved a $1,000,000 cut my bill. I respect the guys on the other side, but don't want to do what they do (even though that was my plan in law school). I am friends with almost all opposing counsel. They are good guys and I enjoy the company of other lawyers.

As to money, I am paid very well -- and earn every penny. As others have said, the money on the plaintiff's side can be better -- substantially better if you're good at it. I'm able to travel, educate my family, save for retirement and have nice things. I don't chase the money -- the money follows when I do a good job for my client. Don't get me wrong; I love the money. I'm no more altruistic than the next guy. I'm not turning down a paycheck. It's that I'm willing to do work hard to get the difficult money because it's better for my client rather than taking easy money simply because it's less work for me.

I've been trying to hire an associate from the defense bar. I'm looking for someone with 2-6 years experience and having a really hard time. These guys are making decent money ($100-250k). They like the security and camaraderie of working in a big firm with other guys who came in at the same time. They hate billing hours but are used to it. They like the lower pressure of defending insurance companies because they get paid regardless of the result and don't have to explain to a real person that the case was lost. The stakes are lower because insurance companies expect to pay claims and they have tens of thousands of claims. My clients are individuals -- they have one case and the stakes are really high (will they go back to work; will they keep their home; will they make up for the death of the breadwinner; will they be able to pay their medical bills; will they be able to put their lives back together).

The defense lawyers are pretty jealous when they hand me a check which will pay my firm more than they bill in an entire year. Yet, the biggest reason I have trouble hiring is because they are locked into a pretty good situation and are afraid to take the risk of going into a plaintiff's practice where you eat what you kill. They (and their wives) see the risk/reward as heavily skewed to the risk side. And honestly, if you feel that way, you're probably not suited to plaintiff's work anyway. You have to be a little bit of a cowboy to be a plaintiff's trial lawyer.

I will add a couple of other things. Representing real people has made me a lot less dogmatic about my conservatism. I see a lot of people who had worked hard and been good citizens all their lives, only to get screwed over by an unexpected and unplanned for major injury. Life experiences change you.

And I also like being a lawyer. I meet all sorts of people I never thought I would given my family background. I wear a suit every day (many lawyers these days dress casually outside the courtroom). Whether it's the suit, the law degree, the little bit of notoriety, or simply growing older, people treat me differently than before I became a lawyer. Granted many of those are politicians who want a donation to the campaign chest! I feel my legal education and practice helps me understand things I didn't understand before I went to law school.

For someone considering becoming a lawyer, I'm one of those who recommends it. It's not for everyone -- there are definitely a lot of unhappy, broke lawyers out there. For the right kind of person, it can be an incredible life altering career.

This post was edited on 8/7 at 12:45 pm


HarveyBanger
Member since Mar 2018
988 posts

Spin-off for the attorneys:

What goes into your decision to sell your soul to the devil and abandon your moral compass to start peddling personal injury claims for BS fender benders?


Joshjrn
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2008
22674 posts

quote:

Spin-off for the attorneys:

What goes into your decision to sell your soul to the devil and abandon your moral compass to start peddling personal injury claims for BS fender benders?


I don't do any civil work and even I think questions like this are lame as frick.


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Contender54
LSU Fan
the Enn Oh
Member since Jan 2009
912 posts
 Online 

quote:

SpringBokCock


Well said.


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KiwiHead
LSU Fan
Auckland, NZ
Member since Jul 2014
21989 posts

Plaintiff guys get a bad rap....especially on here, in particular the guys who advertise. Whereas there are some that get the Ambulance Chaser moniker...and deservedly so.( there was a guy here who was staging accidents) and MIST types abusing the soft tissue injury end. Most of these guys are trying to get a semblance of justice for their clients and a lot truly need effective representation .

As someone who worked in that world for 20+ years I know how insurance companies and large corporations truly feel and what lengths they will go to in order to shirk any real responsibility. My end was working Securities Law.....which overall kept me from screwing over average folks....and in fact in 2008 we actually went after guys like Lehman, etc because of MBS, etc, on behalf of pension funds for people like teachers and cops.

I also agree that being a lawyer moderates your politics especially on the conservative end. Because you learn it's not all black and white. Corporate America is not your friend necessarily. Insurance companies are not generally financial " victims" of policyholder abuse .

Also the Federal Government is not universally your enemy especially for Jones Act guys but also on my end.



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TigerOnTheMountain
US Navy Fan
Higher Elevation
Member since Oct 2014
32427 posts
 Online 



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Lakeboy7
LSU Fan
New Orleans
Member since Jul 2011
21277 posts

quote:

Defense or Prosecution?


Boring and not profitable.


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JohnnyKilroy
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Cajun Navy Vice Admiral
Member since Oct 2012
31652 posts

Plaintiff lawyers get a bad rap, some of it deserving but I like how the other side mostly gets the benefit of the doubt.


The other side is of course, insurance companies that happily take millions/billions of dollars per year in premiums only to fight tooth and nail to keep every cent once a covered event happens.

Anyone who thinks the "scum factor" is weighted more to the plaintiffs' bar has no idea. For every scumbag scamming plaintiff there's at least one case on the other side where the insurance company is doing everything they can to bully someone with a legitimate claim into taking less than they should receive.


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