What Makes a Good Attorney?
By Adam J. Langino, Esq.
Before hiring a lawyer, you need to know about their philosophy towards practicing law. If the lawyer you hire cannot express why they choose to be a lawyer, then that lawyer may not be a good fit for your claim. Below are my thoughts on the practice of law and the qualities I believe make a good lawyer.
What Makes a Good Attorney?
Faith can take many different forms. It can be faith in a higher power. Or faith in the community. Or faith in yourself. An attorney handling a catastrophic injury or wrongful death case needs faith. Why? Because faith is the complete trust or confidence in something. You want your attorney to have faith in your case. Faith is a powerful tool in helping your attorney understand your human damages, such as your pain and suffering. If your attorney is incapable of expressing faith, then they will not be able to advocate for you when times get tough. Without faith, your attorney may pressure you to settle your claim for less than you should.
In the practice of law, diplomacy is essential. As you can imagine, prosecuting wrongful death claims and catastrophic injury claims and seeking hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars causes many corporations' defense lawyers to be on guard. We have all seen advertisements with lawyers claiming they are the most aggressive, meanest, and strongest heavy-hitter in town. That may be true, but those qualities are not helpful to the prosecution of your claim. Prosecuting a claim is complicated and requires cooperation with the other side. The best attorneys know it is wise to be firm rather than unnecessarily nasty with adversaries. Firmness in law means not compromising when doing so puts your client at a disadvantage. Many attorneys back down because they prefer not to conflict with the other side. Other attorneys lash out and act rashly or unprofessionally. Neither approach is helpful to a client. A firm attorney retains composure and always advocates professionally for their client's cause.
The practice of law takes courage. For a plaintiff's lawyer, like myself, taking your case means that the lawyer is committing tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to prosecute your claim. If your attorney lacks courage, they may not be willing to front the costs necessary to bring your claim to a successful resolution. Every lawsuit has its ups and downs, and plaintiffs' attorneys can spend years working on your case and do not get paid until it is resolved. Your attorney must possess the courage to keep moving forward on your claim; otherwise, they may try to pressure you to settle your claim for less than you should.
Kindness is important. It is being selfless, generous, and friendly to others. Remember, many lawsuits take eighteen months to prosecute, if not longer. When you hire an attorney for a catastrophic injury or wrongful death claim, you are in contact with that lawyer for two years or more. If your attorney is not kind, your interactions with them will not benefit your well-being. A kind attorney cares about their clients, is willing to listen, and will go the extra mile to advocate for you.
Your lawyer needs to take joy in the practice of law. You may not know this, but many lawyers hate practicing. They’re unable to handle conflict. They do not like their clients. They feel burdened, overwhelmed, overworked, and unsteady. It is not surprising that alcoholism is more prevalent in this profession than in others. If your lawyer takes joy in the practice of law, they will be a better advocate for you. They’ll handle your case with enthusiasm, grace, and patience, leaving behind self-doubt, cynicism, and fear. They'll feel inspired by the intellectual challenges of your case and will take pride in finding the appropriate legal avenues through which to resolve it.
Ultimately, I suggest that these qualities make a good attorney because they are all qualities I possess and work to improve daily. I take great pride in representing good people for good causes. Faith, Diplomacy, Courage, Kindness, and Joy are the pillars of a stable competent, and respected trial lawyer.
Factors to Consider
Where your attorney went to law school is important. Why? Today there are over 200 law schools in the US. As you can imagine, some are better than others. To attend a top law school, a student must show a track record of academic success, community involvement, and strong analytical skills. When I graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, it was ranked in the top 20 law schools in the nation. Today, it remains a top law school in the U.S.
Your attorney's work experience is important. Does your attorney have experience taking depositions? That's the process of placing a witness or defendant under oath and asking questions to secure the evidence you need to prove your case. Taking depositions is a skill that takes practice. If your attorney is not skilled at taking depositions, then they may not be able to uncover the information needed to prove your claim. Over my career, I have taken hundreds of depositions of all different types of persons. I have deposed firefighters, police officers, EMS workers, engineers, corporate executives, defense experts, and more.
You also want to know if your attorney has courtroom experience. Arguing complicated motions before a court or advocating for you to the jury is also a learned skill that takes practice. It takes practice to think on your feet, answer unanticipated questions, or think of a question on the spot to show the jury the other side's witness is lying on the stand. Over my career, I have argued over a hundred motions before a Judge and have participated in over 20 jury trials. In other words, I know my way around the courtroom. If your attorney does not, they may not be able to advocate effectively for you.
Results matter. The other side knows if your attorney does not get good results for their client. If your attorney is known for settling claims cheaply or is unwilling to go to trial, your claim's resolution may suffer. Before selecting an attorney, you will want to know their track record. Make sure you ask only for their track record for the cases they were the primary prosecuting lawyer. If your lawyer is listing results where they did little more than grabbing a cup of coffee for a senior partner, then that "good" result is not theirs. You can see my track record of success on my website. If your attorney publishes their results, you know they are confident in their ability to prosecute your claim.
Reputation is important. Do your lawyer's peers know them to be a top lawyer? Are they asked to teach other lawyers in seminars? Are they a sought-after author for legal publications? If your lawyer is unknown in the profession, they are less likely to have the skills or qualifications to handle catastrophic injury or wrongful death cases. I routinely lecture other lawyers nationally. I also am often asked to write articles for law journals and legal magazines. And I am recognized yearly by trade publications as a Best Lawyer, Super Lawyer, Legal Elite, and others. If your attorney is not getting similar recognition, they may not be the best fit for your claim.
Who are you hiring?
Who are you hiring? When you hire a large firm, you need to know who is working on your case. The attorney on the billboard or advertisement may meet with you to sign the claim, but it is unlikely they will work on your file. Often, your file will be worked out by less experienced lawyers. A more experienced lawyer may only look closely at your case when it is too late. When you hire Langino Law, you hire me, Adam J. Langino, and not some lawyer fresh out of law school. You can rest assured that a nationally respected trial lawyer is prosecuting your claim.
I am sorry if you are reading this because you or someone you love was killed or catastrophically injured by the negligent acts of another. Over my career, I have handled many wrongful death claims and catastrophic injury claims. I am licensed to practice law in Florida and North Carolina and co-counsel claims in other states. If you would like to learn more about me or my practice, click here. If you want to request a free consultation, click here. As always, stay safe and stay well.