The lives of attorneys on TV shows always seem to take place in mahogany courtrooms or around gleaming conference tables. However, shows and movies rarely give you a full sense of what goes on during a day in the life of a personal injury attorney.
Whether you are working with one to help you get what you deserve, you live with one, or you are thinking of becoming one, you should know what your personal injury lawyer faces on a daily basis.
A personal injury attorney is a litigator, meaning their practice of law focuses on resolving disputes between parties. While the result of a dispute may be a trial before a judge or jury, there are many steps a personal injury lawyer needs to take before it gets to that point.
A personal injury lawyer may spend much of his or her day in a courtroom on issues that eventually determine whether the parties will go to trial or not. They file motions, which ask the court to make preliminary decisions about procedural and legal issues. They may ask the judge to dismiss a case for a variety of reasons or to move the case to another jurisdiction.
If the client’s case does go to trial, the attorney will give opening and closing arguments and possibly interrogate witnesses on the stand. They will also try to poke holes in their opponents’ case by disputing evidence or trying to expose mistakes or lies in sworn testimony.
Whether they are arguing before a judge or jury on a preliminary motion or a full-scale trial, a personal injury lawyer must be able to think quickly, communicate effectively, and present compelling arguments. They must have a good command of the law and the facts.
When they are not in court, much of a personal injury attorney’s time is spent in the office. Personal injury lawyer jobs require lots of paperwork and meetings in addition to arguing in court.
The lawyer must be knowledgeable about current legislation and recent judicial decisions. They often spend their mornings reading legal publications and getting up to date.
There are usually lots of files to review, summaries to write, and motions to draft. The lawyer may be handling a large number of cases, so they may have to review medical records, expert testimony, and other documents.
The personal injury attorney may also use their office to speak with their clients. Clients will want explanations of the judge’s decisions, guidance on the next steps, and reassurances. The lawyer may also be on the phone asking for their bills to be paid!
Many personal injury cases settle before going to trial. Lawyers, judges, and insurance companies will often encourage parties of a lawsuit to come to an agreement outside of court.
A personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the other side to get the best possible deal for their client. They may spend lots of time on the phone with the other party’s lawyer, trying to hammer out an arrangement that will be satisfactory to both parties.
Negotiations can go on for months or even years. Sometimes a case will settle right before going before a jury.
Because personal injury attorneys are often compensated with a percentage of the final award, they work hard to make the final settlement appealing to both their client and fair payment for the hard work they have put into the case.
What does a personal injury lawyer do to get clients? They may have to engage in a variety of activities described as business development and marketing.
Many lawyers get clients through referrals from previous clients or other lawyers. Therefore, it is a smart tactic to raise one’s profile among others in the profession so everyone knows where to go for a good lawyer.
A lawyer may speak to the press about judicial decisions that were good or bad for their clients, seeking to leverage public opinion. They may address professional organizations like bar associations or industry conferences. They may write articles on subjects of interest to potential clients like, “What do you do if you get hurt in a car crash?”
Lawyers, like all businesses, usually have a presence online. They work with marketers to create websites where clients can research their capabilities. Here is a good example of a lawyer website, check it out.
Some lawyers even produce commercials! This can be an effective way to attract potential clients. People will remember these ads if they are injured and need representation.
Whether a personal injury lawyer works alone or with a group of lawyers, there are always business issues to handle. Rent and utility bills must get paid. IT must get updated.
Lawyers often hire assistants, paralegals, and secretaries to assist them with the logistics of running an office. Of course, that requires interviews, payroll, and tax preparation as well.
Some lawyers are entrepreneurial and will work on their own. Others pool their resources to share the expenses of running an office. If they form a partnership, they must also meet to agree on a whole range of issues like human resources, compensation, billing practices, and expansion.
A Day in the Life of a Personal Injury Attorney: Hard Work, Satisfying Results
It may seem like there is no end to the day in the life of a personal injury attorney. Between vigorously defending their clients’ interests to drumming up business and paying the bills, they seem to have endless responsibilities.
However, this profession has many fulfilling attributes. Personal injury attorneys help people when they need it the most: when they have been injured due to the mistake or negligence of someone else. It can be incredibly satisfying to help someone get compensated for whatever it was they may have lost.
Practicing law requires intelligence and courage. There is always something new to learn, and no two days are ever the same. Personal injury lawyers can also make a good living by helping people, especially if they are skilled at negotiating good deals.
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