How Do I Know If I Should Take The Case?
It really is no secret that the practice of law is highly competitive. There may be times when young lawyers and sole practitioners sit at their desks and wonder when a client will walk through the door. For attorneys, it is easy to find yourself taking every case that comes your way. However, in the long run, this may make your practice inefficient and unprofitable. As a young lawyer, how do you know if you should take a case?
When attorneys accept a bad case from a client, several problems typically transpire. The matter causes the attorney to expend valuable resources such as time and money with little, or no, income in return. It also causes an attorney to be less available to accept better, more profitable cases. One or two good cases is better than a multitude of mediocre ones.
It also ties up the attorneys’ time preventing them from concentrating on other business. A few good cases are much better than a cabinet full of problems. One of the most difficult things for any lawyer, especially a young lawyer, to do is reject a case that appears to be viable on its merits with the potential to generate income into the lawyer’s practice. A lawyer may be so happy to see a client with a good case that he or she fails to expend sufficient time to understand all the facts and become better acquainted with the client. Most importantly, the attorney may not fully explore the reasons to reject the case.
Part of knowing when to take or reject a case is knowing when to withdraw from a case. Once a case appears to be going in a negative direction, whether at the stage of early investigation or during discovery, the wisest course of action is to withdraw as soon as possible. Many cases and attorney-client relationships are governed by contingency-fee contracts that typically permit an attorney to withdraw at his or her discretion. However, it is important to withdraw early and avoid a charge of malpractice for doing it too late when a trial is imminent.
Some attorneys take bad cases because they are deluded into believing that in some way, however small, they may help every single client. Attorneys should not have to learn by experience that there are certain people and types of clients that you cannot help or who have problems that cannot be solved legally. Also, always be cautious of clients who have been rejected by another attorney. The reason on which the client’s prior attorney based the decision to reject the client may still exist and apply to any current employment relationship.
Cases to Avoid
- Clients who are overly anxious to sue everyone
- Clients rejected by well-respected attorneys
- Clients rejected after a long period of litigation has already occurred in their matter
- Clients formerly unrepresented by attorneys who have filed pro se and whose cases are already well into discovery or trial
- Clients already involved in litigation who have rejected settlement offers that seem reasonable under the facts
- Clients with an extended history of numerous lawsuits and claims
- Clients who should be rejected based on the smell test
Cases to Accept
- Significant injuries in a case may create a good liability case and, in the hands of a good lawyer with a good trial record, be conducive to settlement.
- Cases brought in by clients who seldom ask what their cases are worth
- Cases in a certain area or sub-area of law in which the lawyer has substantial experience
- Cases which appear to be viable based on an adequate investigation and client interviews
The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is a 21st Century law school tailored to meet the needs of working people. Any lawyer must study and know the law. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. At CDTA, we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.