It is always interesting when you hear from a potential client or even sometimes a current client about something they heard from someone on the street. I always wonder how many conversations there are about cases, trials, or settlements that take place on the street with these people who always seem ready to give you an opinion. I am also struck by how often the opinion is absolutely wrong.
Now, I am not so proud to believe that there aren’t other options out there or maybe even lawyers who come up with some different solutions. So I guess it is possible that the person on the street is some super duper lawyer who can somehow unlock the key to the personal injury puzzle in a way that the rest of us mere mortals haven’t. However, I doubt that is the case. It seems to me that there are people out there who have watched enough Matlock or read all of the Scott Thoreau books who think that is about the equivalent of getting a law license. While in some circumstances that may be the case, the reality is that beyond just the law license there is the experience and education in certain fields. It is the lawyers who are able to learn by dealing with cases and in some instances being involved in the way that the law changes.
We regularly speak at or attend Continuing Legal Education (CLE’s) so that we stay sharp on these issues. We read the local and national magazines concerning the changing trends and case updates. We go to all sorts of events and talk to other lawyers about what is going on in their cases and what is new out there.
While in some cases there may be nothing new under the sun, there are variations that take place in the law, some of which we are very proud to have been a part of. The reality is that we have been doing this a long time and through that time we have gained the experience and the knowledge necessary to advise clients about what will happen. Nobody is perfect or can absolutely predict the future, but there are types of things that we see over and over again in time.
It would be interesting to find out what a group of these street experts would do on a jury. I have found it troubling when a relative gives a client advice and is willing to fight to the last drop of their blood. That same relative, if they are put on the jury, would not give anywhere near the amount that they are claiming their loved one should get. They have some predisposed opinion concerning the “Hot Coffee” case, pain and suffering, or just the idea of suing overall.
My advice is to not talk about your case with anybody on the outside but, if you do, please take a lot of what they say with a grain of salt. If they claim they got a lot of money in a prior settlement, ask them to show you a copy of the check. If it is really that good, ask them for the phone number of their lawyer.
For years we received referrals from an individual we had represented who would tell people at one of the local bars that we had gotten him $2 million in a settlement. Without getting in to what we got for him, I can say that it must have been a different case. I guess sometimes the street talk has helped in the nature of getting people into our office, but in the end make sure to take a good look at who you are getting your advice from.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.