I received a call recently from a guy who had developed CRPS which stands for complex regional pain syndrome and is also known as RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). It was in his arm, following a shoulder injury at work. His pain goes from his shoulder down to his fingers and he has some classic symptoms such as a color change in his arm and the arm being very sensitive to touch.
The caller had hired a law firm and in a little over a year was assigned three different attorneys. The first one was fired by the firm. The second one quit. So now he’s on to the third one. He actually said this one is giving great service, but noted that he had only been an attorney since November when he was sworn in after passing the Illinois bar exam.
So in other words, this attorney is being trained to be a lawyer by practicing on his case. I don’t know anything about this new attorney, but it’s not likely that he has any experience with CRPS and he certainly doesn’t have relevant experience going to trial, taking depositions, reviewing medical records, talking to insurance adjusters, negotiating with defense attorneys, talking to Arbitrators, offering legal opinions or doing anything else. Maybe one day he’ll be the best attorney our fine State has ever produced. But right now he is not worth anything.
This new attorney is going to get experience. But why should that experience come on the back of your case? He will screw up because all young attorneys screw up at some point. I know I did. That’s how you get better. But my screw ups happened when I started my career off defending insurance companies. If this guy screws up, someone’s life could be ruined.
I know attorneys who have been practicing for 20 years and don’t seem to have a good grasp as to what CRPS is. It’s not realistic to imagine that this young buck could understand it that quickly.
When you hire an Illinois workers’ compensation law firm, the fee is 20% of what they get for you in a settlement. You don’t pay more because your lawyer kicked butt and you don’t pay less if they stink. So why would you get an inexperienced one when it’s not going to cost you any more?
Beyond all of this, there is a huge red flag in that the law firm has high turnover. In my opinion, the most successful firms are able to hold on to their lawyers because they take good care of them which is usually a reflection that the attorney does a good job. If it’s not a great place to work, people leave and you are the one that suffers.
We tell people that when they are injured, their focus should be on their health and getting better. That’s true, but you also need to provide thought in to who is going to represent you. And I assure you, a fresh faced lawyer just out of school is never going to be the right answer. They aren’t more “hungry” and they won’t do a better job. They will use your life to make themselves better for a future client. And that’s about it.