For most of the clients I represent, I am the first and last attorney they will deal with. However, on too many occasions I am the second or even third attorney people have come to because they feel their case hasn't been given the attention it deserves.
This is not to say there aren't those clients that are difficult, or those injury cases that aren't as serious as the client believes (or hopes). There are, but for every one of them it appears there's an equal number who are justified in their dissatisfaction. A recent client of mine, Michelle, illustrates my point.
Michelle was a passenger in a car that was rear ended on November 14, 2008. The initial injuries appeared serious but not permanent. Michelle originally signed up with what I'll describe as "a large downtown personal injury law firm" in Chicago, who only obtained medical records regarding the treatment she had received as of the date of the intake.
Michelle had no direct contact with the law firm for the next 18 months other than routine status letters. The lack of personal contact resulted in the firm being unaware that Michelle actually suffered from pre-existing spondylolisthesis that was aggravated by the crash. Michelle underwent a one level lumbar fusion on August 9, 2010. Shortly thereafter, Michelle received a phone call from the firm representing her indicating her case had a settlement offer of $20,000, which they thought was fair and appropriate.
When Michelle told the attorney she had recently undergone a lumbar fusion which she thought was related to the crash, the attorney told her they would not be able to prove the need for surgery was related to the crash. Michelle promptly terminated the "large downtown law firm" and retained me to represent her. After conducting significant discovery, depositions, and expert consultation, I was able to prove the causal relationship between the need for the fusion and the November 14, 2008 crash. Michelle's case settled for $245,000.
The point here is not the amount of Michelle's settlement (although she might argue). To me, the real issue is the lack of attention she received from her initial attorneys. Our clients are real people with real problems, and they deserve far better than to be ignored, as Michelle was, for 18 months. They also deserve our best efforts to obtain for them the fairest settlement possible, and that won't happen unless we put in the hard work necessary to do so.