Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trial Attorneys: Doing business with advertising attorneys

My office is one of those that advertises. We advertise in every medium you can think of: the Web, phone books, radio, TV (including local, state, regional and national), and once in a blue moon newspapers.

With a vast caseload we cannot litigate each case in house so I have spent a great deal of time cultivating capable counsel to help us try cases.

My question to trial attorneys: When is the last time you either wrote, emailed or even cold called an advertising attorney in your state? I am not asking you to think city only. Think the statewide advertisers.

If you have not considered this, the time to do so is now.

Who calls me? I have been impressed with trial attorneys in their thirties and forties who call me quite literally out of the blue. We talk about cases, what they work on, and results. I have not seen any more senior attorneys reach out, however.

Some tips for those who would or should consider going this route to obtain more business:

Due Diligence. Get a read on the type of office that he or she may have. Number of offices, types of attorneys, etc.

Have a plan.
We generate cases from the tip of Florida, to the edges of Eastern Alabama, all of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina - the border states. That's a lot of territory.

If you seek to assist on cases, be specific as to geography. I had a discussion with a small office who said they would "go anywhere." Help stand out and choose certain areas. If you have a specific metro area, inform.

Tell us about the tougher cases you may want to bring to trial. Mark Link from the firm of Hertz, Link and Smith has created a niche handling civil DUI cases all over Georgia. He also seeks out cases with a severe injury but liability issues. They have superb results.

Another attorney has somewhat boldly says he will only want to talk to me about slip and falls with fractures of the leg or lower body.

Another pushes very hard to be allowed to review one car wrecks involving death or serious injury.

What not to do: I have plenty of people in my office who are happy to litigate catastrophic cases with million dollar limits. Some will call and say they only want to look at serious injury cases with clear liability and high insurance limits. Riiight.

Talk about fees early on. My office actually uses a sliding scale (higher if settled early in litigation, downward when certain milestones are reached).

Most trial attorneys who talk with me are surprised by what I ask for in return: If they have cases they believe are "too small" for their offices, send those to me. One attorney from another state looks at cases with values in excess of $100,000 only. I have been able to assist on more than a dozen cases in the range lower than that. I won't expect to get cases back, but I do ask.

Well? Are you willing to make that first contact? That first call? You will never know until you ask.