One of the great things about having my own firm is being selective about the clients I accept. Unlike working for a firm, there is no one to answer to and I get the final (only) say in all decisions on client selection, case strategy, and legal maneuvers.
However, there are times when I accept a difficult case or challenging client despite knowing from the outset that the situation will require extra attention and may cause me additional aggravation.
Why would I deliberately take on a challenge? Read more to find out why and I will highlight a recent case and client where this issue came into play.
Why Take on a Challenge?
A business reason that I accept a challenging case or client is the referral source. I get a significant number of my clients via referrals from other lawyers. Often, the only way a particular pipeline keeps flowing is if I accept nearly every case from that source. Another reason is that the case value might be significant enough that it is worth the extra work and aggravation.
But probably the main reason I will take on a challenging case or client is simply that the client genuinely needs help, and I believe that I can provide it. Many clients who could be seen as “challenging,” are really simply in distress. They may be in pain, worried, and in need of answers, as well as someone to fight for them. If I am a good fit for their particular needs, and I can alleviate their stress, I’m in.
This is always a case-by-case analysis I make. I only take on cases that I am positive I can take all the way to trial without bending my moral principles, risking a violation of ethical rules, or being unable to give the client the attention they deserve. Most of the time, I’m able to correctly assess the pros and cons.
Jump in With Both Feet and No Net
Once I make the decision to take on a matter I have determined to be extra-challenging, I do it with eyes wide open and without any regrets or reservations. I’m all in, for better or worse.
Sounds simple, right?
It’s not. Often, I describe my job as being a combination of a school guidance counselor, private therapist, and life coach.
Some clients need reminders to get documents back. Multiple reminders. We’re talking dozens of texts, calls, emails to gently “remind” and prod people to do something that will help them out in the long run. I try to understand what’s keeping them from doing what they need to, and help them overcome the barrier.
Other clients contact me regularly wanting to know what is happening in their cases, even though I make it a point to keep clients posted regarding developments. Sometimes, the need for more frequent updates is driven by anxiety about the future, and the desire for a resolution of their case. Other times, the client just needs to be reassured they haven’t been forgotten. I may not have much to report on the case, but I try to understand each client’s underlying concerns and address them.
Finally, some cases are inherently difficult and challenging and require much legal maneuvering merely to prevent them from being dismissed, like the school injury cases I wrote about in a prior blog where I had to survive FIVE motions to dismiss.
Grin and Bear it—Roll With the Punches
My recent case with K was interesting. On its face, it was a straightforward workers’ compensation shoulder injury. But it was referred to me by an employment lawyer—this client had a long history of issues with his employer. The client was older, meaning he made decent money. Combine a now-injured, older worker, with a history of conflict with his employer, and you can see that pleasing everyone wasn’t going to be easy.
But wait, there’s more. While K’s surgery and recovery went as expected, he experienced an increase in pain after being released to return to work. This made him fear he had reinjured himself. A visit to the doctor confirmed he had not reinjured the surgically repaired arm and she prescribed anti-inflammatories, which returned him to health and work.
The case should have been easy to settle, right?
Not so fast. Because now the employer’s lawyer was concerned that the one prescription might trigger a requirement that his client fund a lifetime use of this drug through Medicare, which would require a set aside of money allocated for that purpose from his client. I had to jump through hoops to obtain a statement from the doctor that this was truly a one-time prescription and that the visit, while related to the first injury, was not a reinjury.
Once we figured out how to word the settlement contracts, we were able to thread the needle and resolve all issues.
But this took three months.
Three months of working to resolve all issues while helping to reassure a client in pain who wondered why things were moving so slowly. Three months of trying to contact the other attorney who was dealing with hundreds of other cases along with the death of his mother. Three months of reordering medical records to convince the other attorney of the doctor’s position.
Challenging, but worthwhile in the end. Often, the payoff at the end of a challenging case is not just financial; it’s the look of relief on my client’s face and the knowledge that I helped put it there. Attorneys who aren’t up for a “challenge” don’t know what they’re missing.
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.