Ten Things I Wish I Knew As a Young Lawyer Representing Plaintiffs:
1. Make a “to-do list” before you start work and prioritize that list into a top ten. At the end of the day, check off what you have accomplished and then start a new list.
2. Be honest in all things, at all times, in all places.
3. Agree to reasonable requests by opposing counsel, especially early in the case, but you don’t have to agree to every request. It’s ok to say no.
4. Call the defendant (if not represented by counsel) as soon as you can to investigate the facts. Don’t let this opportunity pass. You may find out how the defendant perceives the claim, as well as how the plaintiff is perceived. Don’t just sent a letter of representation.
5. Big damages and bad clients make bad cases. If you dislike your client, consider rejecting the case or withdrawing. Small damages and bad clients make nightmares.
6. Be compassionate but don’t get too close to your clients emotionally. They have hired you for an objective legal analysis and help. Don’t lose that objectivity.
7. Don’t hesitate to praise (if genuine) opposing counsel or an adjuster who does the right thing.
8. If a client verbally abuses your staff, call them out on it and let them know you will withdraw if it happens in the future. If it does happen again, withdraw.
9. Seek advice from lawyers with experience. Be a sponge. Being independent and totally prepared is essential, but the practice of law is an art in many ways.
10. Realize that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.