Hiring the “Nice” Attorney a Smart Move for Most
A friend of mine says that if he ever hears someone say that his attorney is a nice guy, he or she is fired. He says he doesn’t hire his attorney to be “nice.” If his attorney is nice when interacting with the other side, he or she is not doing their job.
Mark Hermann published an article recently (“Is Our Lawyer Aggressive Enough”) on the popular legal website “Above the Law” regarding a similar comment from one of his in-house lawyer colleagues. The comment focused on a concern of whether their outside counsel was “aggressive enough” during a meeting with other attorneys. Mark described how an attorney can be just as successful, or more successful, being quietly confident as opposed to being a “blowhard.” He also stated another downside to being the type of attorney my friend looks for:
[B]eing a blowhard can in fact undermine a lawyer’s effectiveness. As a client, I really don’t need to spend money on tangential discovery disputes caused by lawyers with too much testosterone being unable to get along. Being civilized can reduce costs and help speed a case to resolution.
I completely agree with Mark. In fact, I think the negative effect of being a “blowhard” is magnified in the area of personal injury litigation.
A personal injury attorney can, and should, be a “nice guy (or gal)”. Comparing two equally skilled lawyers, being “nice ” helps at every stage of personal injury litigation.
- As a client, you want your attorney to be “nice” to you. You want the attorney to truly care about you and your case. This is more important in personal injury litigation than in any other area. If you have suffered a serious injury, or have lost a loved one, you are very vulnerable. You need to feel as though you can trust the attorney and that he or she is working your case as if you are a member of his or her own family.
- Statistics show that most cases settle prior to going to trial. Therefore, attorneys must present your case to defense counsel and insurance adjusters. In other words they need to sell your case. Your attorney needs to convince them to ask their superiors for authority to pay money on your case. Being an attorney the other side likes and respects goes a long way in obtaining maximum value on your case.
- For the cases that do go to trial, it will benefit you if your attorney is able to cooperate with the attorney on the other side. Cooperation makes the trial much smoother. Judges and jurors also like “nice” and cooperative attorneys. They do not appreciate attorneys who are always fighting with each other and making their time in jury duty even longer. An unhappy jury is generally not good for a Plaintiff’s case.
Now, don’t confuse being “nice” for being a push over. An attorney should extend professional courtesies to the other side when possible, and when it does not hurt your case. Regardless, your attorney can, and must, vigorously pursue your case. However, your attorney should do this with the utmost professionalism and respect for the other side and the Court. It will get your attorney and YOUR case much farther.