Becoming a personal injury lawyer is an excellent career path for those interested in justice, civil rights, and the pursuit of truth. While many aspects of the job can be rewarding, there are some key considerations you must take into account before committing to this role. From the long hours to the never ending legal research requirements to the mental and emotional strain of some cases, personal injury lawyers must weigh all of these factors before choosing to practice in this field.
First and foremost, aspiring personal injury lawyers must understand the amount of dedication and hard work they can expect to put into their careers. Career advancement, prestige, and financial success may only come to those who truly dedicate a great portion of their lives to the practice of law. It is also often said that the legal industry favors those with the thickest skin, as the most difficult battles tend to take place in the court of law.
Second, it is important to consider the intense pressure of knowing that your decisions in the courtroom have direct implications for your clients’ lives. You are their advocate and must draw upon skill, knowledge, and experience to ensure your client can make a full recovery. While the job may be fulfilling, there are times when the pressure of a trial may be too overwhelming even for the most experienced attorney.
Third, when deciding if personal injury law is the right path, research the local competition. Talk to local attorneys and get an idea of how tough the competition is in your area. Knowing the level of competition that you’ll be up against can better inform your decision when picking a practice area.
Fourth, aspiring personal injury lawyers should also consider the fees they are willing to charge. Many lawyers set fee structures that are not sustainable given the cost of overhead and personnel expenses. When setting prices, make sure to factor in all costs associated with keeping your office open and running and expand your client base.
Fifth, it is important to be mindful that personal injury litigation can be lengthy and complex, so patience and resilience is key for long-term success. Although it may be difficult to predict when a case will be concluded, understanding that cases may last weeks, months, or even years is an important part of the personal injury attorney role.
Finally, you should also be prepared and willing to accept the emotional tolls associated with advocating for victims of personal injury cases. Knowing that aggressive attorneys, insurance companies, and corporations are doing their best to limit or prevent recovery for your client can be a difficult burden to bear. Mastery of lawyering techniques and superior knowledge of the law will be paramount in protecting yourself and the client during tough cases.
In summary, becoming a personal injury lawyer is a career path that has significant rewards. Although the job is emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing, the potential to help victims of personal injury reach successful resolutions can be incredibly satisfying. If you feel you meet the criteria, taking the time to become a successful personal injury lawyer may be the right career path for you.
In the next four sections, we will further explore the considerations for becoming a personal injury lawyer, including the skill sets necessary to succeed, ethical concerns, the requirements for bar admission, and the importance of judicial precedence.
The most successful personal injury lawyers have a number of key skill sets in equal measure. From problem-solving abilities to interpersonal communication skills, a personal injury lawyer must have a range of skills in order to acquire new clients and produce successful results. Building an impenetrable level of oral and written advocacy, empathy, negotiation, research skills, and more is essential for lawyers hoping to make headway in the field of personal injury law.
Two of the most common ethical concerns faced by personal injury attorneys are conflicts of interest and fee splitting with non-lawyers. A conflict of interest occurs when an attorney is unable to advance the best interests of all clients due to a current or potential relationship. Fee splitting, on the other hand, is a serious ethical violation of the professional obligations all lawyers have to their clients. In other words, lawyers must always be wary of non-lawyers attempting to split or share their fees for referring a client.
Bar admission is the process whereby lawyers become permitted to practice in a particular jurisdiction. State bars usually administer the bar admission process and each state typically has its own requirements. Before a lawyer is admitted to the bar, they must pass the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), pass their state’s bar examination, and meet other career requirements.
Judicial precedence is an important concept for personal injury attorneys to understand when trying a case. Judicial precedence refers to the legal concept that decisions reached in one court will serve as a precedent for any similar matters heard by other courts in the same jurisdiction. Used strategically, this concept can help personal injury lawyers build a structure on which to support their case and should be a key consideration in your overall strategy.