“The Litigators” Thoughts on the Book

On John Grisham’s book The Litigators: The book is funny and entertaining. It is somewhat realistic as far as trial tactics and courtroom scenes. The book plays on lawyer stereotypes, and paints an unfair picture of small and big law firm trial lawyers. This picture of trial lawyers will likely be accepted as true by the  general public. This will  further insurance propaganda that personal injury lawyers are ambulance chasers out to turn any arguable case into a cash cow.

Taking a Case. In today’s legal climate an experienced personal injury lawyer does not take a case unless he has an honest client, who has been legitimately injured and he can demonstrate liability. Stated another way the case must be one where a jury will relate to  the client being legally wronged and deserving of fair compensation.  An experienced personal injury lawyer does not try to manufacture a case. This is because such an attempt is doomed to failure. Failure in a personal injury case means the lawyer makes nothing in fees.

Paying for a Case. Assuming the referring lawyer does not also work on the case, it is unethical for a lawyer to pay for a referral of a case.  Grisham leads his readers to believe this is standard procedure for personal injury lawyers.   The standard procedure is to refer to a lawyer who the referring lawyer trusts and knows will do a quality job in representing the client. This is because the majority of referring lawyers are ethical and simply desire what is best for the client.

Client before Self. Grisham’s book is laced with passages to the effect lawyers care little for their client. He would have the reader believe lawyers care first and foremost about their fee. My years of experience as a trial lawyer demonstrate lawyers representing injured people care first about their client. This is the first requirement for winning representation-belief in the client and in his case. This can only be done when the lawyer understands the impact of the injuries to the client. Total belief in the client is infectious-the jury feels the total belief and responds. The fee is secondary and takes care of itself.

The Value of a Quality Lawyer. Generally people buy stereotypes of lawyers when they contemplate faceless lawyers with whom they have no relationship or when they have to deal with an opposition lawyer. When a person is faced with a legal need as in the need to take their case to trial to get fairness the person sees their lawyer in a different light. They see their lawyer as the vehicle for them to get the justice they deserve. The stereotypes break down as they see their lawyer has internalized their case to the point the lawyer knows more about the client’s case then anyone other than the client. It is then the client understands the value of a quality lawyer. Quality trial lawyers and their clients reading Mr. Grisham’s book will see it for what it is-a fictional version of trial lawyers that plays on stereotypes at the expense of reality.

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