Dear future client,
I had just finished a jury trial in Houston, Texas in the early Summer of 2007. It turned out to be my very last jury trial, and it was the start of my own journey that revealed how I could play an even important part in the lives of catastrophic injury victims; if you are reading this, I am guessing people just like you.
I was on a fast track, after graduating near the top of my law school class, now a 38-year-old named partner in a downtown Houston law firm, with a plaintiff-only trial law practice representing people who’d sustained significant and life-altering injuries. I thought I’d practice there until I retired. However, one day a classmate from law school called a month before trial was to start and asked me to parachute into one of his cases as trial counsel and that request set into motion events that would change everything.
While my friend was a talented and competent attorney, this case had him worried. He and his client were scheduled to begin a federal jury trial in about a month. The defendant, a national heavy-equipment manufacturer, was playing hardball, trying to make an example out of my friend’s client’s case to discourage other lawsuits.
Even though the company had already spent a ton of money on lawyers defending the case, it refused to offer my classmate’s client, the plaintiff, any money to settle before it went to trial. These ‘no-offer’ cases are rare and signal a defendant’s overwhelming confidence in winning the suit. My classmate realized I had the specific experience he lacked on this specific type of case, the specific type of injury his client suffered and the venue where the trial was set to begin. So, he asked me to take the lead on the case to give his client the best chance of winning and he offered me a generous percentage of his firm’s fee.
To make a long story short, I won that ‘no-offer’ case for the plaintiff. The jury returned a verdict of $3.6 million plus hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in interest. The manufacturer appealed, but we prevailed again. My client, who I didn’t even know a month before the trial started, collected a staggering amount of money for a no-offer case and I felt on top of the world.
In the days that followed the jury’s verdict, I got depressed. The other cases in my office were not in my talent wheelhouse like the one I just got done trying. I was competent for the other cases in my office, but not really special. I knew it, but my other clients didn’t. I couldn’t live with it. I went to law school to help people, and now I felt like a fraud and, even though I was perfectly competent to handle a wide variety of cases, I knew other lawyers from other law firms would add value on just about all the unique cases in my office just like I had in with the case I just got done trying.
So after dealing with my bruised ego, I began to design a new kind of personal injury firm. Instead of only focusing only on improving my own skills and abilities as a lawyer, I focused on forging relationships with super-talented specialist lawyers and collecting data about these lawyers’ results on different types of cases, different types of injuries and in different venues. For example, an adult burned in a construction accident would have a very different legal team than a child injured in a fuel-fed fire that occurred on a school bus. While both cases involve burn injuries, the cases are actually quite different and call for different legal teams. It’s unreasonable for a potential client to know the difference, and this is where we provide an essential service. We also found that the great lawyers love working on what they are great at, and we have been pleasantly surprised over time at the reception we get with specialist lawyers eager to work on cases that fit squarely in their wheelhouse.
Matching clients with carefully tailored legal teams has become my vocation. Over time, I developed sophisticated processes, deep and valuable relationships with some of the best specialty personal injury lawyers and a sophisticated approach to vetting and matching clients and attorneys. Today, I enjoy helping catastrophically injured clients because I know in my heart I really am helping. That’s why I went to law school and honestly everyday I get to live out my dream.