In today’s world of online marketing, websites, and television, it is obvious that attorneys advertise a lot! A common misconception is that the firms or attorneys that advertise the most somehow make a better fit than others that do not. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of the best trial attorneys in the state of Florida never advertise and the common person may have never even heard their name before. So what should you look for when hiring a personal injury attorney?
DO SOME HOMEWORK
Taking advantage of the information that is readily available on the internet is a good place to start. You can do quick searches on prospective firms or attorneys that will land you volumes of information. Information such as reviews will often give you a snap shot of what former clients have to say about the representation they received. Always take this information with a grain of salt since one negative review does not necessarily give you a complete picture of what a firm’s abilities are. Attorneys work in an adverserial system…meaning, there are often winners and losers. If an attorney says they have “never” lost a case then they have likely not tried enough cases in front of a jury or maybe they have never even tried a case at all. One bad review among a sea of positive reviews are common in this business so take reviews as just a portion of your research involved in hiring an attorney. Upon request, any attorney should be willing to discuss with you not only their experience but also their training and education. Have a list of questions ready when you sit down to meet the attorney that will be handling your case. Think of the initial consultation as your opportunity to gauge how your personalities work together. Remember, hiring a personal injury attorney often means that you are starting a relationship that could last over a year.
HOW ACCESSIBLE IS MY ATTORNEY?
This is one of the biggest complaints that people make to the Florida Bar. They rarely speak to their attorney, or in some cases never speak to them, and calls go unanswered. Any top notch personal injury firm will have policies in place that they will explain to you when you have your consultation. At Berkowtiz & Myer, you get the cell phone number of the attorney handling your case for situations after hours that clients can use for immediate advice. Plus, if you need to speak to your attorney you can contact our office and you will be scheduled a 15 minute phone conference to occur by the end of the next business day. Email addresses are provided and encouraged to be used by clients when they need any sort of advice or service. There is no reason why anyone that has hired a law firm should not have quick and complete access to staff and attorneys. We find that leaving several lines of communication open with clients facilitates great attorney-client relationships.
COMMUNITY AND PEER RECOGNITION
In today’s world many websites are devoted to helping people make informed decisions when hiring attorneys and firms. AVVO.com is a website that gives you information on particular lawyers and their skill set. They utilize a 10.0 rating system that is based on many factors to give the most biased possible opinion on that particular attorney. AVVO also has an area that allows other attorneys to comment on the reputation of that particular attorney in their area of practice. Getting an unsolicited opinion from other attorneys is often a great indicator on the reputation and experience someone posses in a particular area. Another factor that one may consider is what sort of achievements and peer recognition an attorney has received over their years in practice. Superlawyers is a term utilized by a service that uses a peer nominated system to give a prestigious award to attorneys in a particular area. Superlawyers is an award given to less than 5% of the total attorneys in practice. This is but one award of several that can give you an indication as to the reputation of a lawyer in any area of law.
At the end of the day the hiring of an attorney is a very important decision for you and your family. Personal Injury cases are very complex and need to be handled properly in order to maximize the value of your case. Remember, personal injury cases are about putting you back into the best position you were before the injury occurred. Since we do not have time machines and cannot change the past, all we can do is to maximize your recovery to put you in the best possible position moving forward. If you do not make the decision of who you hire an important one, then you may be putting yourself in a position of disadvantage moving forward. If you have a case that you would personally like to discuss, contact me directly.
Christian Myer is the litigation partner at Berkowitz & Myer that commits his practice to all areas of personal injury law. As an adjunct professor at Stetson Law School Mr. Myer has been awarded Superlawyer achievement 2013, 2014 and 2015. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.