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  1. #1
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    Default Vetting an Attorney Based on Trial Experience

    My question relates to legal practice in the state of: CA

    Is there a database that shows how often or what amount or percentage of cases does a particular attorney actually take cases to trial? IOW, is he actually a trial attorney rather than a bluffer who looks for the easy money?

    I was told that insurance companies know who those attorneys are and do take them as seriously as real trial attorneys.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    I don't think you characturization is very correct. The best civil settlements occur out of court in a majority of circumstances. In the one narrow field that I am intimately familiar with (as I am the adjudicator), I can tell you that it is most common that the case is settled (sometimes at the eleventh hour) before we get to hear it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    Is there a database that shows how often or what amount or percentage of cases does a particular attorney actually take cases to trial?
    No, there is not.
    Quote Quoting Brian57
    I was told that insurance companies know who those attorneys are and do take them as seriously as real trial attorneys.
    Insurance companies know about lawyers with whom they have experience. They know that a case count isn't everything. For example, they know that there are some excellent lawyers who carefully screen and build cases and that, although the firms rarely take cases to trial, will not settle a case for less than it is worth. They know that some lawyers who don't have a regular trial practice will team up with an experienced trial lawyer when it appears that a case is likely to go to trial.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney Based on Trial Experience

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    Is there a database that shows how often or what amount or percentage of cases does a particular attorney actually take cases to trial? IOW, is he actually a trial attorney rather than a bluffer who looks for the easy money?
    No, there is not. Moreover, most cases of even the best trial lawyers do settle. This is not surprising given that the vast majority of lawsuits are settled before trial. In the jurisdictions in which I practice, approximately 93-95% of all civil cases settle before trial. So the raw statistics of what percentage of the attorney's cases settle would not be a very reliable indicator of how good the lawyer is.

    From your various questions on this, it is clear you are looking for some easy way to find out who the best attorneys are by some quick search of the internet. What you will find is that there is no simple way to do that. Just as with doctors and many other professionals, you have to sort out whom to hire the old fashioned way: through referrals of people you know who have hired them, recommendations from others who practice that profession (e.g. asking your general practitioner doctor for recommendations on a specialist, asking your business lawyer for recommendations on a civil litigator), reviewing their history with regulators to see if there have been any adverse actions taken against them, checking their education and experience in the area you need, etc.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    I realize that most cases settle out of court on the eleventh hour. However, some settle for much more than others, obviously for an endless amount of reasons.

    I ask this because I watched about 6-8 ten minute talks by personal injury lawyers who give their introductions on U-tube. You may think those speeches are cheesy or untrustworthy but they do identify themselves and are putting their best foot forward for their firm. It is far more than anyone who posts here is willing to do. Actually, the only one that comes even close is Aaron...but he rarely posts and I've never seen him represent his firm by speaking into a camera. I'd like to see it though.

    Anyway, what several of the attorneys are saying is that the insurance companies know which attorneys will try a case. Therefore, they are more apt to make larger offers to those attorney who WILL take the case to trial. So, how do they know which ones will litigate a case? And, why make a high offer to a bluffing attorney?

    Every attorney wants a slam dunk case but are there actually some that totally avoid the courtroom...and public record documents that? Remember, it's all public record so why wouldn't there be a trackable record of it?

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    No, there is not. Moreover, most cases of even the best trial lawyers do settle. This is not surprising given that the vast majority of lawsuits are settled before trial. In the jurisdictions in which I practice, approximately 93-95% of all civil cases settle before trial. So the raw statistics of what percentage of the attorney's cases settle would not be a very reliable indicator of how good the lawyer is.

    From your various questions on this, it is clear you are looking for some easy way to find out who the best attorneys are by some quick search of the internet. What you will find is that there is no simple way to do that. Just as with doctors and many other professionals, you have to sort out whom to hire the old fashioned way: through referrals of people you know who have hired them, recommendations from others who practice that profession (e.g. asking your general practitioner doctor for recommendations on a specialist, asking your business lawyer for recommendations on a civil litigator), reviewing their history with regulators to see if there have been any adverse actions taken against them, checking their education and experience in the area you need, etc.
    First, I am not looking for an easy way to hire an attorney. I am curious if there is data on lawyers and their success rate in the courtroom?

    I disagree with the above bold statement. If most attorneys settled out of court 90% of the time, and a defendant found itself facing an attorney that settled out of court only 70% of the time, it is clear you are facing an attorney who is ready, willing and able to litigate a case. Since most insurance companies do not want to try a case, that attorney would be feared more than a bluffer. He would be made a more serious offer. At least that is what several of these attorneys are saying.

    So, are they FOS and tooting their own horn?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    I realize that most cases settle out of court on the eleventh hour. However, some settle for much more than others, obviously for an endless amount of reasons.
    That much is true.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    I ask this because I watched about 6-8 ten minute talks by personal injury lawyers who give their introductions on U-tube. You may think those speeches are cheesy or untrustworthy but they do identify themselves and are putting their best foot forward for their firm. It is far more than anyone who posts here is willing to do. Actually, the only one that comes even close is Aaron...but he rarely posts and I've never seen him represent his firm by speaking into a camera. I'd like to see it though.
    I don't provide any links to my firm or my marketing on this site for two reasons. First, the jurisdictions in which I practice have rules for the practice of law that effectively prohibit me from soliciting clients off a forum like this one. Second, even if that were not the case, I have no need to solicit clients here (or on YouTube) as I have more prospective clients contacting me than I can take right now as it is.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    Anyway, what several of the attorneys are saying is that the insurance companies know which attorneys will try a case. Therefore, they are more apt to make larger offers to those attorney who WILL take the case to trial. So, how do they know which ones will litigate a case? And, why make a high offer to a bluffing attorney?
    Insurance companies hire law firms to defend their insureds. Those law firms tend to be defense only law firms ó that is, they do only defense of personal injury cases, mostly for insurance companies. Those firms will have lawyers that have dealt with a number of attorneys in that community and thus when they go up against attorneys they have gone up against before they'll know what they likely can expect from that attorney. Those attorneys will also be familiar with the general reputation that some lawyers will have in the legal community who are famous (or infamous) for being either really, really good or really, really bad. Of course, they won't know all the attorneys in a given state or even in a particular city. When they go up against someone they've not seen before and who doesn't have a well known reputation then they have no idea what to expect.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    Every attorney wants a slam dunk case but are there actually some that totally avoid the courtroom...and public record documents that? Remember, it's all public record so why wouldn't there be a trackable record of it?
    Not every attorney wants a slam dunk case, or least don't want all their cases to be that way. I certainly don't. Moreover, not all of it is public record. And thats a problem. Consider, for example, that a lot of cases settle even before the lawsuit is filed. There is no public record of those. And frankly, the worst of the attorneys are those who settle everything cheap before even filing the complaint. Consider, too, that most settlements are confidential. So you cannot see from the case record what the attorney got for his client and cannot evaluate from the public record just how good or bad the settlement was. And that's the information you'd really want to know.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    I am curious if there is data on lawyers and their success rate in the courtroom?
    None that would do you any good.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    I disagree with the above bold statement. If most attorneys settled out of court 90% of the time, and a defendant found itself facing an attorney that settled out of court only 70% of the time, it is clear you are facing an attorney who is ready, willing and able to litigate a case.
    You disagree with me because you do not understand the practice of law. Let me give you two examples that illustrate the flaw in the logic you are using.

    There is an attorney in my area who settles nearly every case. He is also regarded as one of the best PI attorneys because those settlements are almost always on the high end given the damages suffered by the client. Why is that? It's because (1) when he does go to trial, he's very, very good and has a reputation for that in the legal community, including among the defense bar that represents insurance companies and (2) he's a damn good negotiator. But using your logic, you'd reject him just based on statistics because the stats, if they were available, would show he settles more cases than most.

    Second, there is another attorney whom I know who does go to trial quite often. When he goes to trial, he's a mess. He's not well organized, his case presentations are confusing, and the results for clients are often poor. He doesn't settle as many cases as other lawyers because he asks for more from insurance companies than he's likely to get given his poor litigation skills. The defense firms know that, so they refuse the offers and prefer to go to trial when he's the lawyer representing the plaintiff. But based on your logic, you would say the fact that he goes to trial more suggests he's a good attorney. So you might go with him based on that. If you did, you'd likely end up getting a bad result.

    The best attorneys are the ones who get the best results for their clients. They may do that a variety of ways. Some may do it by going to trial. Some may do it by being fantastic at negotiating settlements. A statistic that tells you how many cases a lawyer actually takes to trial tells you nothing about how good or bad that lawyer is.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Companies do not settle a case for more money merely because the plaintiff's attorney will take the case to trial. That is a misconception. Now, it is true that an attorney who is afraid to go to trial will not get the best settlements. Having a reputation of never ever trying a case does impact settlement decisions by defendants. But it is not the volume of cases going to trial, it is the quality of the case preparation and the facts of the case that are going to determine how much a case is settled for. Not any fear of having the case tried. Defendants will try poorly prepared cases all day long rather than settle.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Quote Quoting asa_jim
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    Companies do not settle a case for more money merely because the plaintiff's attorney will take the case to trial. That is a misconception. Now, it is true that an attorney who is afraid to go to trial will not get the best settlements. Having a reputation of never ever trying a case does impact settlement decisions by defendants. But it is not the volume of cases going to trial, it is the quality of the case preparation and the facts of the case that are going to determine how much a case is settled for. Not any fear of having the case tried. Defendants will try poorly prepared cases all day long rather than settle.
    That is all I am really saying...along with there possibly being a database to get those stats from since it is all public record.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Quote Quoting asa_jim
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    Companies do not settle a case for more money merely because the plaintiff's attorney will take the case to trial. That is a misconception.
    Exactly.

    Quote Quoting asa_jim
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    Defendants will try poorly prepared cases all day long rather than settle.
    And just to be sure others are clear on this, a defendants will try cases all day long where the plaintiff's case is poorly prepared and poorly presented. Just as in the case of that attorney in my example who tries lots of cases, but just isnít very good at it. Insurance firms and their lawyers don't mind taking those cases to trial.

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    That is all I am really saying...along with there possibly being a database to get those stats from since it is all public record.
    The stats alone wouldn’t tell you much. That’s why there is little demand for the kind of stats you seek, and thus why you aren’t finding a ready database of it. Again, not all of it public record, so the stats would not include everything anyway. As I said before, a number of cases settle even before a complaint is filed in court. There would be no public records of those instances.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vetting an Attorney

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    Exactly.

    And just to be sure others are clear on this, a defendants will try cases all day long where the plaintiff's case is poorly prepared and poorly presented. Just as in the case of that attorney in my example who tries lots of cases, but just isnít very good at it. Insurance firms and their lawyers don't mind taking those cases to trial.

    The stats alone wouldnít tell you much. Thatís why there is little demand for the kind of stats you seek, and thus why you arenít finding a ready database of it. Again, not all of it public record, so the stats would not include everything anyway. As I said before, a number of cases settle even before a complaint is filed in court. There would be no public records of those instances.
    Do you agree or disagree with what I bolded in Jim's above post?

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