So, you are in a car wreck, or you’ve suffered from medical malpractice, or a family member or acquaintance has been killed due to another’s negligence, or you’ve been defrauded or wrongfully treated by an insurance company. What do you do? Who do you call? Do you get on the phone and call a lawyer on television who advertises day and night? Is that who you want representing you? Is that who will represent you? Do you know who will represent you?
Well, before you make that call, you should consider a few things. At that point, at least you will make an informed decision.
Why do lawyers advertise? We all need to market ourselves in some form or fashion. This article, in and of itself, is a form of marketing/advertising, but it is also educational. Most lawyers advertise to educate the public and to obtain cases. But, should you simply choose your lawyer based on a television commercial? Would you choose your doctor, dentist, investment adviser that way?
In Birmingham, you will see many different firms advertising on billboards, television and buses: Alexander Shunnarah, Wettermark Keith, Norris Injury, the Alabama Hammer (Mike Slocumb), Hollis Wright, Morgan & Morgan, Morris Bart, Steve Mezrano, Farris Riley & Pitt, etc. In addition, there are many law firms who don’t advertise (or at least not much): Hare Wynn; Heninger Garrison Davis; Marsh Rickard & Bryan; Cory Watson; Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher & Goldfarb, etc. Moreover, there are many other attorneys who work on their own or in small firms who are very good at what they do. How do you know where to go? There are so many choices.
A person who is looking for an attorney has many avenues these days to find the right attorney for their case. How? Ask other attorneys. Ask friends and family. Post a question on social media. Get on the firm’s, or attorney’s, website and read about them. Go interview the attorney you are considering. Or, you can pick the best looking billboard or commercial.
What are some of the questions you need to ask a potential law firm?
First, who will be my attorney? Let’s say you go to Alexander Shunnarah or Wettermark Keith or Morgan & Morgan. Will Alexander Shunnarah, James Wettermark, Chris Keith or John Morgan actually be your attorney? When you call, will you be speaking with that attorney, or will you be sent to one of the many other attorneys at the firm? This is not an indictment of these firms for passing a potential client to another attorney at the firm, but it’s a consideration when you call because it is very possible that the attorney on TV will NOT be the attorney representing you, meeting with you, talking with you, attending depositions with you, or going to court with you. At our firm, Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC, when you come to one of our attorneys, we are the ones you work with. We are the ones who return your calls. We are the ones who meet you at the office and in court. We are the ones who speak with your doctors. We are the ones who prepare you for deposition, trial, mediation and arbitration.
Second, what kind of experience does the attorney have? What kinds of cases has he/she handled? Has your attorney been practicing long? Has your attorney taken depositions? Hired experts? tried jury trials? At our firm, Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC, all three of us have 25, 30 and 23 years of experience respectively. We have all taken depositions, interviewed witnesses, hired experts and tried jury trials. We have handled all types of cases: car wrecks, truck wrecks, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, workers compensation, cycling wrecks, dog bites, ERISA disputes, insurance disputes, lemon law cases, social security disability cases, commercial litigation and more.
Third, how many files is the attorney handling at one time? I have heard, and I cannot confirm this fact, that some attorneys have case loads of 200, 300 and 400 cases. If that is accurate, I cannot imagine how one attorney can possibly handle that many cases, especially if some are litigated. There are so many hours in a day, and litigation takes time – a lot of time. You want your case to get the attention it deserves, and you don’t want to be lost in the shuffle. At our firm, Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC, each attorney’s case load is typically between 50 and 100 cases so that we can be responsive to our clients. Not only is each case time-consuming, but our attorneys have to field calls from potential clients every day, and that in and of itself takes time, but we are the ones who field those calls and screen the cases, not an assistant.
Fourth, what is the attorney or law firm’s reputation among his/her peers? Defense attorneys and insurance companies know the attorneys in the community. They know whether an attorney will litigate the case. They know if an attorney is reasonable and whether the attorney knows how to evaluate a case. Recently, an attorney for a well-known insurance company told me he paid $8,000 less than the case was worth because the plaintiff’s attorney wanted to settle the case and move one. At our firm, Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC, we believe we have the experience and education to properly evaluate a case, and we attempt to maximize the value of every case, not simply settle it and move on. In fact, if you look at our website here, you will see where other attorneys refer us cases and recommend our services. We are honored and humbled that our peers think highly enough of us to recommend our services.
Finally, will your attorney care about you and your family? Ultimately, you want an attorney who wants to form a team with you and fight against the other side. You don’t want to fight with your own attorney. You want an attorney who cares about you and not simply about making a dollar. At our firm, Lewis, Feldman & Lehane, LLC, the three of us practice law to help others. We consider the practice of law a time-honored profession where we represent our clients as people, not as inventory and widgets in a factory. We are not trying to move you through the system, we are trying to help you and your family recover from whatever injury or wrong you have incurred.
So, at the end of the day, clients have to decide what they want in the lawyer they hire. Does the client want a mill?
noun – a business or institution that dispenses products or services in an impersonal or mechanical manner, as if produced in a factory:
a divorce mill; a diploma mill.
or, does the client want a boutique?
noun, often attributive bou·tique bü-ˈtēk, often attributive bou·tique bü-ˈtēk
2. : a small company that offers highly specialized services or products boutique wineriesan independent investment boutique
boutiquey -ˈtē-kē adjective