Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

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Anonymous User
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Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm

TLS has a ton of good info on Big Law. So I thought I'd help out any future members of the Plaintiffs Bar and answer any questions.

I work at a mid sized firm that practices mass-tort, PI, Bad Faith, Toxic Tort, and a other more unique areas. Im coming up on my 2nd year. And I absolutely love it.

Feel free to ask questions and I'll answer in more detail.

champ33
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby champ33 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:53 pm

1. What do you love about it?

2. I have have a few interviews with med mal/tort defense firms, and think the work would be interesting, but also have thought about wanting to switch to plaintiffs side at some point. Does spending a few years on one side make a person marketable for switching over to the other?

3. What is the process for getting hired? Are these firms just looking for good grades or do you need to demonstrate a real interest in the work? Maybe you could share your credentials, whether you summered there, to the extent you feel comfortable...

Thanks!

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:04 pm

champ33 wrote:1. What do you love about it?

2. I have have a few interviews with med mal/tort defense firms, and think the work would be interesting, but also have thought about wanting to switch to plaintiffs side at some point. Does spending a few years on one side make a person marketable for switching over to the other?

3. What is the process for getting hired? Are these firms just looking for good grades or do you need to demonstrate a real interest in the work? Maybe you could share your credentials, whether you summered there, to the extent you feel comfortable...

Thanks!



I was Median at UCLA/UT/Vandy. I did not summer there, just got the job by dumb luck. In fact I dont even remember giving my transcripts. They did ask for extensive writing samples (I think 3) because a lot of the work is writing. Mainly it was School, Writing ability, experience, and personality. I did not have any Plaintiffs work experience before.

Besides me, most the other attorneys in my office are from big firms and did defense. I think it does help to have some defense background. And most of the successful Plaintiffs firms understand that.

The best parts of the job- Ive got probably 75 cases on my different dockets (not including MDLs which have hundreds). So lots of very different work at different stages. I get significantly more responsibility in the cases, and largely the partners just leave me alone to do my job. I get to take depos, go to court, meet with clients etc. And there's nothing quite as exciting as a sitting in the courtroom for a huge verdict.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:08 pm

Is this a well-known plaintiff's firm that people would recognize? Like Susman? Or do you work for a smaller lesser known shop?

Do you think your experience is comparable to that of other associates from plaintiff's firms?

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Wily
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Wily » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:11 pm

About what range is your pay? Is it a flat salary or based on contingency fees from settlements/judgments?

How's the job security/turnover?

Are you required to do any client-finding/rainmaking of your own, or do the partners take care of that?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is this a well-known plaintiff's firm that people would recognize? Like Susman? Or do you work for a smaller lesser known shop?

Do you think your experience is comparable to that of other associates from plaintiff's firms?


Not as well known as Susman. Susman really does a lot of defense work these days. I've actually been a little disappointed in our cases against them. They haven't quite lived up to the legend.

Obviously there is a very wide range at different Plaintiffs firms. I think my experience is similar for the higher end plaintiffs firms. Whereas the lower end Plaintiffs work is probably quite different. The young associates Ive met at AAJ or local Trial Lawyer Association have had pretty broad experience. So the type of work really can determine the quality of experience.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:27 pm

Wily wrote:About what range is your pay? Is it a flat salary or based on contingency fees from settlements/judgments?

How's the job security/turnover?

Are you required to do any client-finding/rainmaking of your own, or do the partners take care of that?



Pay range is a set base salary around 80-90k. WIth a year end bonus that is determined by the success of my cases. Verdicts are a pain because they are always appealed for years. So really settlements determine the bonus more consistently.

Job Security is good. We are growing. I think I'm lucky in this aspect. they've really invested a lot to train me at my job, and understand that as a young attorney I've got a lot to learn still.

Im not required to do any rain making. It would be rather hard to do that at this stage of my career. Ten years ago our firm received about 80% of its clients from referrals. Now we receive about 80 to 90% of our clients via our Ads, SEO/Online, and straight call ins. The internet has really revolutionized our client base. Especially for the Mass Tort MDL stuff.

FSCU25
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby FSCU25 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:57 pm

I summered at a plaintiffs' firm and have a trial heavy resume. Would you be willing to share any insight on how you found the firm and do you have any recommendations for students trying to find plaintiffs' firms that are hiring?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:05 pm

FSCU25 wrote:I summered at a plaintiffs' firm and have a trial heavy resume. Would you be willing to share any insight on how you found the firm and do you have any recommendations for students trying to find plaintiffs' firms that are hiring?


After I graduated I mass-mailed every Plaintiffs firm in the region. I was lucky, and got a few callbacks and really clicked with my firm.

I would definitely focus on your experience of working with a trial firm. The skills that are important to emphasize- writing ability, multi-tasking and organization (very important), management and responsibility (also very important because they want to be able to trust you to run the docket), and also believing in the cause (they obviously don't want someone who believes in tort reform or loves insurance companies).

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Hipster but Athletic
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Hipster but Athletic » Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:

The best parts of the job- Ive got probably 75 cases on my different dockets (not including MDLs which have hundreds). So lots of very different work at different stages. I get significantly more responsibility in the cases, and largely the partners just leave me alone to do my job. I get to take depos, go to court, meet with clients etc. And there's nothing quite as exciting as a sitting in the courtroom for a huge verdict.

:shock: :shock: You don't feel guilty about taking this many cases? A client can't expect your undivided attention, but SEVENTY-FIVE at once?

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3|ink
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby 3|ink » Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:57 pm

Hipster but Athletic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:

The best parts of the job- Ive got probably 75 cases on my different dockets (not including MDLs which have hundreds). So lots of very different work at different stages. I get significantly more responsibility in the cases, and largely the partners just leave me alone to do my job. I get to take depos, go to court, meet with clients etc. And there's nothing quite as exciting as a sitting in the courtroom for a huge verdict.

:shock: :shock: You don't feel guilty about taking this many cases? A client can't expect your undivided attention, but SEVENTY-FIVE at once?

It's a volume business.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:25 pm

3|ink wrote:
Hipster but Athletic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:

The best parts of the job- Ive got probably 75 cases on my different dockets (not including MDLs which have hundreds). So lots of very different work at different stages. I get significantly more responsibility in the cases, and largely the partners just leave me alone to do my job. I get to take depos, go to court, meet with clients etc. And there's nothing quite as exciting as a sitting in the courtroom for a huge verdict.

:shock: :shock: You don't feel guilty about taking this many cases? A client can't expect your undivided attention, but SEVENTY-FIVE at once?

It's a volume business.


Exactly.

That's the fun part of Plaintiff's side work. I probably touch 15 to 20 different cases every day. Obviously certain dockets take more work then others. And those cases aren't all at the same stage. If we include the Pharma MDL dockets it increases to hundreds of cases. I have about 20 cases on each major docket I work on. These cases are largely similar, at least in the litigation process.

For example, a case in early discovery really doesn't take much work. Its the same form complaint and discovery we send in every case, followed up by a motion to compel, a motion for protective order etc. That stuff is so routine at this point its not very time consuming. The key to Plaintiffs work is to keep the defense moving, and hit them with liability as fast as possible. Get discovery, compel the good docs, set the depos, and push them early.

A response to an MSJ or Motion to dismiss takes a lot more time. So a case in that stage will get far more work.

Then if a case goes to trial then things really get crazy. At our firm that is handled by the senior guys. They've done hundreds of trials, and at that point its in their hands. Truthfully most defense attorneys are afraid of trial and try to everything to avoid the possibility. Its a huge advantage for us to have significant trial experience.

And yeah some cases take a significant amount of time. I've got an Antitrust case right now that is far more time consuming then a personal injury case.

The key is we don't want to waste time billing. I dont ever have to track my time (we just have an expert testify for attorneys fees). Our model is to push the defense. I know its very different then big law or defense attorneys who spend all their time on a few major cases.

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Hipster but Athletic
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Hipster but Athletic » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:33 pm

Just having read a shitload of TERRIBLE MSJ's lately, even by ivy grad plaintiffs attorneys, Im thinking you must realize you sacrifice some quality in your brief writing for volume...so I guess I'm wonder is if you feel guilty about that

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:54 pm

Hipster but Athletic wrote:Just having read a shitload of TERRIBLE MSJ's lately, even by ivy grad plaintiffs attorneys, Im thinking you must realize you sacrifice some quality in your brief writing for volume...so I guess I'm wonder is if you feel guilty about that


Nope. And I don't agree that I sacrifice brief writing. We sacrifice the stupid pointless billable work. I dont have 75 MSJ responses to write at the same time (probably half of my PI cases settle before MSJ anyways). In reality I have a major response every couple weeks. I can't remember a significant brief that I felt like I needed more time to draft. Brief writing and litigation in general, is fairly predictable. I have to evaluate how much time a case deserves and I know the deadline. An MSJ for a personal injury case for example, is hardly ever very complicated. Anti-trust or some more advanced claims, obviously take significantly more time for a response.

schweitziro
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby schweitziro » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:10 pm

You know what is the only bad type of MSJ Response brief for Plaintiffs? One that loses. Plaintiffs work on pure contingency is about efficiency.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:16 pm

schweitziro wrote:You know what is the only bad type of MSJ Response brief for Plaintiffs? One that loses. Plaintiffs work on pure contingency is about efficiency.


Exactly. Creating an issue of fact is not that hard in a Personal Injury case.

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KD35
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby KD35 » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:32 pm

Don't think I saw anything on this yet, but what are the hours like? I'm guessing it varies based on whether you have court appearances coming up and the likes, but just curious how your hours look.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:37 pm

KD35 wrote:Don't think I saw anything on this yet, but what are the hours like? I'm guessing it varies based on whether you have court appearances coming up and the likes, but just curious how your hours look.


I probably do about 50 a week generally. Trials, trips, and big hearings/motions/depos can make things longer. Generally if there is something out in the middle of nowhere, I'll be the one that goes because the partners don't want waste their time.

Last week for example I had a very complicated motion to dismiss. I worked probably 60 -70 hours to draft the response and deal with my normal workload.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:40 pm

To be completely blunt: I think I would love Plaintiffs' work. Just love it. And the only thing that is holding me back is money. I also love money--to be completely blunt.

Can I ask my question this way: assuming that Bob is competitive, tenacious, smart-as-a-whip with a nose for spotting issues, very well spoken on his feet and very quick in a debate, a strong writer, able to hyper-focus on a goal, able to look at legal problems from all sorts of non-legal perspectives, knows how not only to make a legal argument but "market" it to a layman, generally instills confidence and serenity in clients, has a great sense for sniffing out the unexpected underbelly of opposing counsel's case, loves civil procedure, and is one of those guys who has an answer for everything without seeming slippery...let's just assume arguendo that all of this is indisputable...can Bob reasonably expect that if he takes a job post-graduation for 50 grand at a Plaintiffs' firm, that in 10 years, he'll be making BigLaw non-equity partner money?

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To be completely blunt: I think I would love Plaintiffs' work. Just love it. And the only thing that is holding me back is money. I also love money--to be completely blunt.

Can I ask my question this way: assuming that Bob is competitive, tenacious, smart-as-a-whip with a nose for spotting issues, very well spoken on his feet and very quick in a debate, a strong writer, able to hyper-focus on a goal, able to look at legal problems from all sorts of non-legal perspectives, knows how not only to make a legal argument but "market" it to a layman, generally instills confidence and serenity in clients, has a great sense for sniffing out the unexpected underbelly of opposing counsel's case, loves civil procedure, and is one of those guys who has an answer for everything without seeming slippery...let's just assume arguendo that all of this is indisputable...can Bob reasonably expect that if he takes a job post-graduation for 50 grand at a Plaintiffs' firm, that in 10 years, he'll be making BigLaw non-equity partner money?

If your answer to me is yes, then note the time of your post because that is the time I decided without reservation to become a Plaintiffs' lawyer.


Nothing is every guaranteed. But the top 1,000 Plaintiffs lawyers make much much much more money then the top 1,000 big law firm lawyers. It takes more then just being smart. You have to be able to deal with a million things at once. You have to be likeable and quick thinking. You have to work incredibly hard. And a little bit of luck.

Frankly, Plaintiffs work is simply more of a high risk high reward industry. For some people it just clicks. But I've also seen brilliant attorneys who can't function in the environment. And I've also seen complete morons make millions.

If you love civil procedure, Plaintiffs side is the place to go (coming from a guy who loves civil procedure).

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is this a well-known plaintiff's firm that people would recognize? Like Susman? Or do you work for a smaller lesser known shop?

Do you think your experience is comparable to that of other associates from plaintiff's firms?


Not as well known as Susman. Susman really does a lot of defense work these days. I've actually been a little disappointed in our cases against them. They haven't quite lived up to the legend.


Can I ask how your experience didn't "live up to the legend"? Just wondering.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is this a well-known plaintiff's firm that people would recognize? Like Susman? Or do you work for a smaller lesser known shop?

Do you think your experience is comparable to that of other associates from plaintiff's firms?


Not as well known as Susman. Susman really does a lot of defense work these days. I've actually been a little disappointed in our cases against them. They haven't quite lived up to the legend.


Can I ask how your experience didn't "live up to the legend"? Just wondering.



We beat them pretty badly. Just didn't seem like the bad asses everyone made them out to be (kinda just seemed petty and winey).

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is this a well-known plaintiff's firm that people would recognize? Like Susman? Or do you work for a smaller lesser known shop?

Do you think your experience is comparable to that of other associates from plaintiff's firms?


Not as well known as Susman. Susman really does a lot of defense work these days. I've actually been a little disappointed in our cases against them. They haven't quite lived up to the legend.


Can I ask how your experience didn't "live up to the legend"? Just wondering.



We beat them pretty badly. Just didn't seem like the bad asses everyone made them out to be (kinda just seemed petty and winey).


Thanks.

How would you advise a job seeker to decide on a plaintiff's firm? How do you even start looking? There's not as much data or common knowledge about such firms.

Anonymous User
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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks.

How would you advise a job seeker to decide on a plaintiff's firm? How do you even start looking? There's not as much data or common knowledge about such firms.


Mass mail, go to events at the local trial lawyers association or AAJ and networking,

I focused on the type of cases the firms took and the pedigree of the attorneys. There are some really bad Plaintiffs firms out there. Avoid them at all costs. 95% of the time you can tell if a firm is legit by its website. If the firm is willing to pay 100k-plus on a good website, its probably getting good work. Also the reputation of the firm. Do some background research on the attorneys. Look at the types of cases the firms get.

I think somewhere out there on TLS there is a list of the biggest Plaintiffs firms.

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Re: Plaintiffs Lawyer taking questions

Postby mvpforme » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wily wrote:About what range is your pay? Is it a flat salary or based on contingency fees from settlements/judgments?

How's the job security/turnover?

Are you required to do any client-finding/rainmaking of your own, or do the partners take care of that?



Pay range is a set base salary around 80-90k. WIth a year end bonus that is determined by the success of my cases. Verdicts are a pain because they are always appealed for years. So really settlements determine the bonus more consistently.

Job Security is good. We are growing. I think I'm lucky in this aspect. they've really invested a lot to train me at my job, and understand that as a young attorney I've got a lot to learn still.

Im not required to do any rain making. It would be rather hard to do that at this stage of my career. Ten years ago our firm received about 80% of its clients from referrals. Now we receive about 80 to 90% of our clients via our Ads, SEO/Online, and straight call ins. The internet has really revolutionized our client base. Especially for the Mass Tort MDL stuff.



What is the bonus range?




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