Plaintiffs lawyers

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utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:26 pm

manofjustice wrote:What is the best way to make massive amounts of money in the legal profession?


Becoming a plaintiffs attorney, hands down. It is difficult. You have to practice the right areas for your ability, your region, and for what kind of clients you can get. But the upside is far greater than any upside anywhere else. The risk is far greater, as well. The main thing is that you HAVE to work for yourself. Otherwise, your boss is the one pocketing the lion's share of any money made off of a case.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:27 pm

The sad truth is that not every attorney is cut out to be a trial lawyer. Most aren't. At the same time, you don't have to be Joe Smooth Trial Attorney to make a lot of money. But you do have to be Joe Smooth Business Man/Woman to be successful.

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manofjustice
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby manofjustice » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:34 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:The sad truth is that not every attorney is cut out to be a trial lawyer. Most aren't. At the same time, you don't have to be Joe Smooth Trial Attorney to make a lot of money. But you do have to be Joe Smooth Business Man/Woman to be successful.


Besides the obvious, which I would count as having that "thing," that "charisma," that "being able to put together sentences on the fly that sound logically compelling in response to any question," what are the other skills a trial lawyer gets the most millage out of. I am trying to put together a list of skills that generate the most return in trial law, vis-a-vis "general" lawyer skills. That way, if I look at that list and say "oh, those are my strengths," then I know what to do.

Also, you said "find the right practice area for your ability, your region, and what kind of clients you can get." Can you talk more specifically about how these factor in? Especially ability and what you meant by that?

Also, it would seem a retarded move to go into solo practice off the bat. So, what is the stepping-stone getting you from a 0-skill point to being ready to go out on your own to keep your fee all to yourself?

But mostly I am looking for that list of skills, because I am still at the level-one stage of trying to figure out what to pursue--not so much trying to figure out how to pursue it.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby gwuorbust » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:54 pm

manofjustice wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:The sad truth is that not every attorney is cut out to be a trial lawyer. Most aren't. At the same time, you don't have to be Joe Smooth Trial Attorney to make a lot of money. But you do have to be Joe Smooth Business Man/Woman to be successful.


Besides the obvious, which I would count as having that "thing," that "charisma," that "being able to put together sentences on the fly that sound logically compelling in response to any question," what are the other skills a trial lawyer gets the most millage out of. I am trying to put together a list of skills that generate the most return in trial law, vis-a-vis "general" lawyer skills. That way, if I look at that list and say "oh, those are my strengths," then I know what to do.

Also, you said "find the right practice area for your ability, your region, and what kind of clients you can get." Can you talk more specifically about how these factor in? Especially ability and what you meant by that?

Also, it would seem a retarded move to go into solo practice off the bat. So, what is the stepping-stone getting you from a 0-skill point to being ready to go out on your own to keep your fee all to yourself?

But mostly I am looking for that list of skills, because I am still at the level-one stage of trying to figure out what to pursue--not so much trying to figure out how to pursue it.


You should try to do moot court; you will likely learn invaluable skills.

Also, if you take a trial advocacy course, that likely won't hack it. You need continuous practice to actually master the skills of trial work.

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Postby Myself » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:10 am

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utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:44 am

I promise to get to your questions. It just may take a couple of days as I have to write a summary judgment response. The deadline is right around the corner.

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LeDique
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby LeDique » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:49 am

Tag for reading tomorrow.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:44 pm

manofjustice wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:The sad truth is that not every attorney is cut out to be a trial lawyer. Most aren't. At the same time, you don't have to be Joe Smooth Trial Attorney to make a lot of money. But you do have to be Joe Smooth Business Man/Woman to be successful.


Besides the obvious, which I would count as having that "thing," that "charisma," that "being able to put together sentences on the fly that sound logically compelling in response to any question," what are the other skills a trial lawyer gets the most millage out of. I am trying to put together a list of skills that generate the most return in trial law, vis-a-vis "general" lawyer skills. That way, if I look at that list and say "oh, those are my strengths," then I know what to do.

Also, you said "find the right practice area for your ability, your region, and what kind of clients you can get." Can you talk more specifically about how these factor in? Especially ability and what you meant by that?

Also, it would seem a retarded move to go into solo practice off the bat. So, what is the stepping-stone getting you from a 0-skill point to being ready to go out on your own to keep your fee all to yourself?

But mostly I am looking for that list of skills, because I am still at the level-one stage of trying to figure out what to pursue--not so much trying to figure out how to pursue it.


These are great questions. Let me answer them one by one...

Besides the obvious, which I would count as having that "thing," that "charisma," that "being able to put together sentences on the fly that sound logically compelling in response to any question," what are the other skills a trial lawyer gets the most millage out of. I am trying to put together a list of skills that generate the most return in trial law, vis-a-vis "general" lawyer skills. That way, if I look at that list and say "oh, those are my strengths," then I know what to do.


Like the above poster said, you HAVE to practice. You have to be comfortable, quick witted, and you have to sound coherent and make great points on the fly. But you have to get practice with your delivery. But you don't want to sound scripted. You want to sound natural. Remember, you are not acting, you are advocating for your client just as you would advocate for your mother if she were taken advantage of. And the best way to sound natural is to get practice. In my opinion, the best way to get that practice is to participate in interscholastic mock trial because you will be practicing all the time. You have to learn how to lay foundations. You have to learn how to object and GET THINGS ON THE RECORD for possible appeal.

You have to learn how to do pleadings proficiently. As simple as it sounds, you have to be able to conceptualize every point about litigation. That way, you completely understand everything and you can strategize accordingly.

You HAVE to learn how to write clearly. But at the same time, you have to learn how to make your points with the same sophistication they may have but plainly. A judge is not going to reread your writing to understand. If your point is not easily understood by a judge, that point might as well have been left of the page.

And you HAVE to know your federal and state rules of evidence. This is crucial because it helps you plan strategy and contingent strategy if things happen differently.

Also, you said "find the right practice area for your ability, your region, and what kind of clients you can get." Can you talk more specifically about how these factor in? Especially ability and what you meant by that?


The key to running any business is to know if there is demand for your services. So find unmet demand in your area. Demand for various legal services is going to vary by region. If you go into personal injury and everyone and their grandmother is doing personal injury, you won't do well. Why should anyone pick you over them? You're new, you have no rep.

Ability. Different sets of facts and practice areas take different degrees of ability to be successful. Every lawyer is not created equal when it comes to litigation. You may see liability where other lawyers don't. And when you set out to prove liability, you may only need a fraction of the quality of evidence that another lawyer would need to prove liability. Or you may not be able to prove liability where another lawyer can. Just because you can craft a theory of liability for a very difficult case, hardly means any lawyer can. Certain practice areas are easier than others. And certain facts, regardless of practice area, are much easier to work with than others. The more ability you have, the more cases you can play with.

A trial lawyer's ability can be broken down into two main components. Does that trial lawyer have the intellect to create sound arguments as to why something may or may not be the case? And can that lawyer persuasively articulate those arguments to someone else where they can understand them?

And you can't just get up there and argue. That's what your closing is for. You have to learn to flesh out support for your argument by proper examination. That's easier said than done. It takes lots of practice. And cross examination is harder to learn than direct examination. There is an art to it. But first, you have to master the fundamentals before you can concentrate on the art of cross examination. To a lessor extent, there is an art to direct, as well. However, I don't think it can be learned as easily as cross. It's more of a you either have it or you don't kind of thing. Direct is mostly about connecting to a jury and judge. Cross is more about exposing the weaknesses in your opponent's evidence.

Obviously, you can't practice an area of law if you can't attract those types of clients. That's self explanatory.

Also, it would seem a retarded move to go into solo practice off the bat. So, what is the stepping-stone getting you from a 0-skill point to being ready to go out on your own to keep your fee all to yourself?


It's not retarded if you have lots of ability and resources in the form of knowing experienced attorneys who can answer your questions. It's also not retarded if you have enough discipline and determination to read every law you can find on procedure and substantive issues that relate to what you want to practice.

I was sick for so long, so I had no choice. But my law school classmate that I'm partnered with is the one who sold me on the idea of going solo right out of law school when we were still in school. That's what she wanted the entire time. I had to get sick before I decided to do it when I was better.

But doing so almost entirely relates to what kind of business woman/man you are and how ambitious you are and how courageous you are. Because it takes a lot of balls to do so. It just scares most people and rightfully so. But if you are not scared and have big balls, than running your own firm is right for you. The upside is greater than working for any biglaw firm, financially speaking. It's difficult. It's unlikely. But that's why it takes big balls.

But the way most people do it is to work for a smaller sized firm for two or three years and then break off and do that kind of work or similar work for yourself. Smaller sized firms give you experience immediately. And you have more involvement with a case. Biglaw firms seem to be streamlined a lot for young associates. So you don't get a chance to see the big picture of what you are doing until you've worked several years at a biglaw firm. That doesn't help prepare you for solo practice.

But mostly I am looking for that list of skills, because I am still at the level-one stage of trying to figure out what to pursue--not so much trying to figure out how to pursue it.


While I don't think that these skills can be learned to the point of being a master, most trial lawyers who make money are far from masters. These are skills I can think of off the top of my head:

Public speaking

quit witted-you have to be able to think quickly and proficiently on your feet.

Thoroughness and intellect-developing case theory and formulating how certain pieces of evidence can support your theory is crucial. Intellect is more of an attribute than skill. But it is an important attribute and largely decides what type of cases you can accept.

Good/great writing skills-your pen is your primary weapon. All of litigation has to go through a judge before it can ever get to a jury.

Good legal research skills- there can be lots pretrial hearings that turn on issues of law.

great reading comprehension skills-not only do you have to understand cases and statutes that you read, you have to understand what your opponent is saying. Spotting flaws in their argument is crucial for effective rebuttals.
As to the cases and statutes, you have to know what they say and don't say. You have to be able to dissect them and draw distinctions/similarities between the facts of your case and the facts of the case you read.

Go to class in law school and actually read the material. There are no outlines in law practice. So you better get used to figuring stuff out on your own from reading it. Keep your text books and bar study materials. They provide you with a great starting point on legal issues that need to be further researched.

A jury and judge have to like you and your client. A judge not liking you can be overcome, but you're sunk if a jury does not like you. If you cannot be a likable person, you CANNOT WORK FOR YOURSELF AND YOU CANNOT BE A GOOD TRIAL LAWYER. IF BENDING OVER BACKWARDS WITH KINDNESS AND FRIENDLINESS ARE NOT NATURAL TO YOU, YOU HAVE TO FIND ANOTHER AREA OF LAW TO PRACTICE IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

As you've probably guessed, many people on this site would not be able to own their own law firm or be good trial lawyers.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:45 pm

Sorry for the electronic shouting. It was easier to press caps lock then bold while typing. I just wanted to stress the importance of that trait both from a business and courtroom perspective.

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manofjustice
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby manofjustice » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:32 pm

This is amazing. Thank you so much for this advice. It focus me a bit as I go through law school on the kinds of things I should be practicing and learning.

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manofjustice
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby manofjustice » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:36 pm

Can you elaborate a bit on "being nice?" Nice to whom? Clients? Judges? The other side? All three? Can you be mean to anybody?

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manofjustice
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby manofjustice » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:40 pm

Also, this is a weird question, and feel free not to answer it...but if a judge, during an exchange in which she's clearly reluctant to provide you your relief, says "well how would you have me write the holding?"...are you close to moving her a bit closer to your side?

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Renne Walker
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby Renne Walker » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:03 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:I am a plaintiffs lawyer. I've posted a somewhat related topic to this, but it was still quite different. As I gain more experience, I learn more. So feel free to ask any questions about the plaintiff's side to litigation. I'm currently bored right now as I've recently had time to exhale. But it won't last long...


Given a choice for a 2L SA at a NYC BigLaw firm or a boutique (litigation) firm with 40 attorneys, which option would you advise? Side note, the boutique pays slightly less and is in a secondary market (Dallas size) — their client base serves a good number of fortune 500 corps.

Just trying to think this through, long-term. Thanks.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:22 pm

manofjustice wrote:This is amazing. Thank you so much for this advice. It focus me a bit as I go through law school on the kinds of things I should be practicing and learning.


Thank you. I hope it helps.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:26 pm

manofjustice wrote:Can you elaborate a bit on "being nice?" Nice to whom? Clients? Judges? The other side? All three? Can you be mean to anybody?



You need to be nice and friendly to everyone, opposing counsel, clients, potential clients, judges, everyone you meet. You do not need to be anyone's friend, especially clients. They will run over you. But you need to be nice to them. What I mean by nice is just be friendly and pleasant. Smile. Behave as though you are meeting your girlfriends parents for the first time. But try to lose the nervousness. You want to exude confidence. You are a trial lawyer. This is ok. We all are cocky, at least the good ones.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:36 pm

Renne Walker wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:I am a plaintiffs lawyer. I've posted a somewhat related topic to this, but it was still quite different. As I gain more experience, I learn more. So feel free to ask any questions about the plaintiff's side to litigation. I'm currently bored right now as I've recently had time to exhale. But it won't last long...


Given a choice for a 2L SA at a NYC BigLaw firm or a boutique (litigation) firm with 40 attorneys, which option would you advise? Side note, the boutique pays slightly less and is in a secondary market (Dallas size) — their client base serves a good number of fortune 500 corps.

Just trying to think this through, long-term. Thanks.


This all depends on what you want to for your career. A career in biglaw means a career in working for someone or breaking off and needing other lawyers to do the heavy lifting for you because you can't do it yourself. The network of lawyers is vastly different, as well. Working at a boutique will get you networking with other trial lawyers. If you want to be an effective trial lawyer, you should choose the boutique, hands down. If you want to go biglaw for your career, choose the big firm. But it is a pipe dream to think that someone biglaw, even if working in the litigation department can effectively transition into a trial lawyer. Unless you are trying cases for that firm, you won't effectively make the transition. Working in the lit department won't do much good because you will rarely see the big picture. You will not be in charge of devising case strategy. You will just be used to draft pleadings according to evidence, facts pled, and law. While those are important things that are essential to trial practice, they are incomplete and not the most important. The most important component to trial practice is being able to craft a sound theory of the case. And then you need to know how the available evidence you can get can support that theory. And if it can't, you need to make a theory that can be supported by that evidence. You get no experience with this at a biglaw firm. Biglaw is defense minded. That boutique will be plaintiffs minded.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:52 pm

manofjustice wrote:Also, this is a weird question, and feel free not to answer it...but if a judge, during an exchange in which she's clearly reluctant to provide you your relief, says "well how would you have me write the holding?"...are you close to moving her a bit closer to your side?



Not really. It just means that he/she doesn't have much of an idea of the reasoning behind your position. She may or may not be leaning to your side.

Anonymous User
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:03 am

Do you think a 3-4 year biglaw litigation associate with general commercial litigation experience, and maybe some mass torts experience, could lateral and find employment at a well regarded small plaintiffs' firm? Or will this sort of background be eschewed because of lack of real trial experience and being on the defense side?

Also, this is an embarrasingly dumb question, but how do you do discovery in solo litigation when they're actually asking for a lot of documents, or when they respond to your requests with a massive doc dump. I'm only used to biglaw Doc review with software, and always wondered how small firms handled it.

Finally, I know you stress trial skills, but given that even successful plaintiffs attorneys may only be in trial only two times a year, how do you manage to master those skills and remember the finer points of the rules of evidence? I feel like if I had a trial every six months I'd never remember all the little things.
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Postby Myself » Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:46 am

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utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:54 am

ajax adonis wrote:Did you have any mentors that helped you to become a great trial attorney? Where did you find your mentors?


None of my mentors helped become a great trial lawyer. But they did help steer my course to becoming one. My first mentor was very valuable. She is a partner at one of the Texas based big three most prestigious firms. We got paired up through a mentorship program that UT Law had. She does some trial work but mainly does appellate work. She was the first to suggest that I should try out for one of UT Law's interscholastic mock trial teams. She sold me on the idea, first.

Then I had an opposing counsel who became a mentor to me. He guided me a bit, not much, but he was very nice and helpful. Currently, I have two mentors. They are plaintiff's lawyers who are very good at what they do and make a lot of money doing it. They are also well connected. They have provided me with the most guidance as far as procedural stuff goes to litigation. And they have provided me with professional advice in the form of business advice and have placed me in the fraternity of trial lawyers. That is invaluable.

Most of the foundation for my actual courtroom advocacy skills I learned from the various coaches we had on the UT Law interscholastic mock trial team that I was on. We practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. And we constantly got feedback, usually, in the form of criticism because we weren't doing things right. They were true coaches. At the end, things worked out well for me. I won an individual award for runner up for "best advocate." I also have a very strong faith and credit God for pairing me with something that I am very good at thanks to the ability He had given me in the first place.
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BCLS
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby BCLS » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:57 am

Advice to someone joining a small trial firm as an associate? Thanks for your time!

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:03 am

I came into contact with my last two mentors because I called various law firms trying to get financing for an incredibly difficult case I had. I finally called one of the most successful plaintiffs firms in the country based out in Florida. They took an interest, but still thought my case was too hard so they paired me with this law firm in Houston who they had worked with in the past on numerous occasions. It became a very good pairing.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:09 am

BCLS wrote:Advice to someone joining a small trial firm as an associate? Thanks for your time!


They will probably have you doing a specific set of tasks. Be likable and show initiative. Try to ask as many questions as you can without being annoying. You want to learn the big picture with every single case you are working on. Find out why you are doing what you are doing. Get as familiar with everything in the firm as you can. That way, you always have the option of breaking out on your own.

Most importantly, find out how they run their business. How do they get clients? It may be something that you cannot emulate or it will be something that you can. If I were you, I'd find out how the firm started and how it grew. What did they do to make it grow?

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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:14 pm

Thanks for all this, utlaw.

I sent you a PM if you have a sec.

utlaw2007
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Re: Plaintiffs lawyers

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for all this, utlaw.

I sent you a PM if you have a sec.


Thanks for the heads up. I'll try to get to it by the end of the day.




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