Here’s a good story that’s making the rounds of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
There is a lawyer for injured workers who has a reputation of a hot head. Apparently he was mad at an insurance company and their law firm and told an attorney at the law firm that he was “declaring war on them” and would never settle a case with them again. Everything is going to trial.
It’s one thing to say something like that in the heat of the moment. It’s another to actually do it. Refusing to consider settling your client’s case because of a personal beef on another case is not only bad lawyering, it’s legal malpractice and probably an ethical violation that could lead to the lawyer having his license to practice suspended. Can you imagine your lawyer telling you that your case is worth $100,000.00 and the insurance company is offering that, but you can’t take it because they were mean in another case.
Being a lawyer is somewhat like being a politician. You have to have thick skin. I’ve had attorneys piss me off greatly over the years. I’ve learned not to trust some, but that just makes me cautious, not willing to refuse to even talk on a completely different case. Nobody in my state wide network would act any other way.
Back to the story. So this lawyer declares war and a few days later has a case that is up for trial, but shouldn’t go to trial because he’s not ready (doesn’t have all of the information that he needs to go to trial) and apparently his case isn’t that strong. The Arbitrator advises him against going to trial, but he insists even though there is a settlement offer on the table.
As you can guess, the trial went forward and the Arbitrator found in favor of the insurance company leaving the injured client with nothing.
We consider ourselves fighters and do whatever we can for our clients within reason. “Fighting” for your clients to me actually means getting the case ready for trial when it needs to be tried and going to trial while pushing for EVERYTHING that the client is entitled to. Defense attorneys aren’t afraid of loud mouths. They are afraid of smart, prepared attorneys because they know that means they have their work cut out for them.
If you see that your lawyer is yelling at his secretary, co-workers or even you, that’s a sign of how they treat people in their life. It might work out in your case, but if they are pissing off enough people instead of really fighting for their clients it may come back to hurt you even though you did nothing wrong. You become guilty by association.