While it may seem like an excellent way to save time and money by using the same attorney from case to case, in addition to having an attorney who you´ve developed a good rapport with and who is familiar to you, in the long run, this is very rarely a good idea. Some people find using different attorneys within the same law firm to be beneficial, but it is rare to find someone successfully using the same attorney in more than one type of case. There are several reasons for this.
Attorneys spend several years studying in college, followed by several more additional years of studying in a law school. During law school, different types of case law are examined by law school students, but these studies are geared more towards teaching future lawyers about the process of researching case law than how to represent clients in one or another type of litigation. Presenting cases to juries and judges, drawing up court documents, the many different methods of producing witness´ statements, and cross examination of witnesses called on by the opposing party are covered in law school classes, also.
Much of the process of litigation involves case preparation. This includes, in an injury case, gathering of medical records, questioning witnesses and gathering their statements, researching case law, taking photographic evidence of the accident scene, talking with first responders and other government employees who were on-scene at the accident, to name a few.
The type of work required to prepare an attorney to represent you in an injury case is very different from the work needed to prepare an attorney to represent a client in any other type of case. There are different types of evidence needed, and hopefully, a different defendant. Also, after spending time in one type of litigation, attorneys become more familiar with the staff in the different courtrooms, and also with the individual judges who hear cases. Judges have been known to be overly particular about certain things, including things that have nothing to do with the case being heard, but rather with how paperwork is completed and presented and other things unrelated to a case. Having an attorney who is familiar with the pet peeves of the judge who will be presiding over your injury case can be more important to the outcome of your case than your familiarity with the attorney providing his or her expertise.
In addition to case preparation, the attorney representing you must be knowledgeable about your specific type of injury. If there is an insurance company opposing your lawsuit, they will have their own list of experts who are paid to discredit you and your injury. Expert witnesses are often paid large sums of money in an effort to protect financial assets from injury case awards. Hiring an attorney who provided exccellent representation in your divorce will leave you without your own list of expert witnesses to provide testimony for your side of the lawsuit. Again, this is an advantage that you don´t want to exchange just to have an attorney who is familiar to you.
Another aspect that you need to take into consideration regarding retaining an attorney who has been specifically trained in injury law is experience in the courtroom. There is a great deal of different between a divorce case, which rarely goes before a jury, and an injury case, which most likely will be decided by a jury. Courtroom presentation can make or break a case, and again, the attorney´s experience with the current situation is very important to your financial wellbeing.
If you truly need to have an attorney who is more familiar to you than someone who is completely new, it is best to see if there is another partner in the same firm, or, possibly, another attorney who your ´old´ attorney will refer you to. There are too many risks involved in retaining an inexperienced attorney. Experience in one practice area of law does not guarantee experience in another practice area.
Court cases of many types can be extremely complex, with many different variables affecting the outcome of each case. Some practice areas of law are more complicated than other areas, but adding in an opposition who has much to lose financially, motivating them to actually fight against you, creates the need to retain an attorney who is experienced in your specific type of case, be it injury, discrimination, or even breach of contract.
Consistent successes in the courtroom may show that an attorney is adept at one or two practice areas, but even that is no guarantee that he or she will always be able to win a case. However, with many types of cases, particularly injury cases, most attorneys wil n ot accept a case if they feel they cannot win. This is largely because the losing party is typically ordered by the court to pay for court costs. In a divorce, this is not usually standard billing practice. For standard procedures, such as drawing up a will or power of attorney, or transfer of property, there is usually a set fee, and no ongoing attorney-client relationship is created, except for updating the documents involved.
So, in short, you can most certainly retain the same attorney for your current injury case if you were really impressed with their handling of your other legal issues. But, you really shouldn´t, for several reasons. Calling their office for a referral might be an excellent way to begin your search for a new attorney who can successfully represent you in your current needs.
About The Author
This blog post was written by Marc Albert, a premier NYC Personal Injury Attorney, who has helped hundred’s of clients in NYC – get the compensation they need when suffering, and injured.