The first time this happened, I was shocked. Although I have now heard the same story many times, I am still a little shocked (and a lot disgusted) each time. What is the story? It goes something like this —
The office phone rings. The caller wants to discuss his car accident and see if we can help. However, he already has a lawyer. It’s a billboard law firm! He’s really unhappy with that law firm. When I hear that someone is unhappy with a local lawyer who works hard for his or her clients, I counsel the caller to sit down and talk with the lawyer. Often, it’s just an issue of communication. But, this is different. Sitting down with the billboard lawyer may be difficult or impossible. Why?
Many times, the caller has never even spoken with his lawyer. This is the part that shocks me! (Think on that for just a minute. The person has a lawyer he has never even met.). After his car accident, investigators simply came to his hospital room or home. In some cases, the “investigators” were simply “case runners” who showed up without invitation. In other cases, the process started when the person called the number from a billboard or television commercial. Regardless, the “investigators” promise a lawyer will take care of him, present papers, and get his signature. Yet, when he calls the lawyer’s office some weeks or months later asking about his case, he gets no answers. Maybe he talks with a legal assistant. Maybe. Usually, he only speaks with a receptionist who knows nothing about his specific case. I doubt the settlement mill lawyer (or even the paralegal) will call him back until the case is settled. What’s clear is that:
- The billboard lawyer does not know his client.
- The billboard lawyer did not conduct the detailed client interview needed to prepare the case.
- The billboard lawyer has a client with no idea what is happening on his claim.
The scenario is all too common. It’s all too wrong. The caller has hired a settlement mill that settles a volume of cases for low values. What’s worse, many times the settlement mill firm has actually made his claim more difficult to win.
If you are shocked, you should be. When did lawyers start outsourcing client interviews to investigators or “case runners” as some people call them? Cases are personal. Every case involves a deeply personal and unique story. Every case is different. How can a lawyer take a case without sitting down with the prospective client? How can a lawyer present a claim when he or she never met the client? The lawyer needs to hear the client, see the client and understand the client. A face-to-face (lawyer-to-client) interview is absolutely essential to prepare fully any case. If you are injured, insist upon it. When lawyers outsource their jobs, you suffer.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we specialize in serious personal injury cases. From our office in Huntsville, we represent clients across Alabama. We do not promise quick results. We take our time and work every detail in our cases. Our approach is work-intensive. Our goal is to build cases in order to obtain the maximum recovery possible for our injured Alabama clients.