Can you help me? Will you take my case? These are the questions I hear most often.
Nobody ever HOPES or WANTS to see me at my office. If you find yourself in my office, you’ve got a problem and maybe a tragedy on your hands. You might even say, “I never thought I’d be here.” You may have been cheated out of a lot of money or been horribly injured in a fire. You might have been stiffed by an insurance company. You may have even lost a spouse or family member in an accident. Whatever it is, it usually isn’t good. You may be afraid or embarrassed or angry. You don’t know quite what to do or if you can do anything at all. But, ultimately, you have just one important question: “Can you help me?”
I obviously want to help everyone I can but I also have to be reasonable and professional in making the decision to take a case. But to answer the infamous question, I have to go through a process.
I have 3 questions that I have to answer: 1. Do I want to help you? 2. Can I help you? 3. Can I make this case pay?
Do I WANT to help you? Do I believe in the case? If I think we can work together and that you’ll follow my advice then I will be motivated to work on this case when the going gets tough. I will hang in there when things don’t look good. If I care about you, it is easier to stand up for you. If I can honestly say, “This isn’t right!” I want to do something about this!” I know I can move to the next question.
CAN I help you? When it is all said and done, can I make a difference? Can I convince a judge or a jury that your case has merit? I have tilted at my share of windmills but no one wants to go through a trial if there isn’t a decent chance of prevailing. If I think I can help, then I have to answer that final question.
Can I make this case PAY? I take cases on a contingency basis. In other words, I get paid only if you get paid. Some people get paid for advice; I get paid for results. Many people say: “it’s not about the money.” I understand. Money is a poor way to measure a loss that can’t be measured. One famous trial lawyer called it, “The gruesome bookkeeping of death.” But that is the most I can do for you. I can’t throw anyone in jail and I certainly can’t bring anyone back from the dead. All I can do is try to get some measure of compensation as unsatisfactory as that may be. I have employees to pay and insurance and all the rest. The bottom line is that I have to think about the money even if you don’t want to. I know what it is going to take and how hard it will be, and I have to be sure that taking the case makes sense for both of us.
If I take the case, I require that everyone sign a simple contract. It is required by law. But more importantly, I want to look you in the eye and shake your hand. I want to know that we are in this together.