I was heading down the road recently when I saw a billboard that pretty much screamed at me: “Size Matters!”
The proponent, as it turned out, was in fact a very large personal injury firm with a marketing budget to match (aka, the Big Guys). Which got me, a competitor Sarasota/Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch personal injury attorney with clients throughout Florida just like the Big Guys, thinking: does size really matter?
After a few more miles, I had to admit, that size can indeed be a differentiator. But, as life has taught me — whether we’re talking about pizza or love or just about anything — size is hardly everything.
Think about it. Sometimes the convenience of ordering fast foo d pizza from the Big Pizza Guys is the right call to make; the rest of the time, though, my business goes to the friendly, local, mom-and-pop pizza parlor that makes their pies from recipes handed down from the old country (or at least, from Jersey or New York) and baked in a brick oven.
Some basics don’t change, regardless of size
And so, it also is with personal injury firms: Size isn’t everything. For one, regardless of firm size, the playing field is pretty level in some respects.
Here are a couple of things that you’ll find nearly all personal attorneys handle the same way:
- The vast majority of injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. Unlike in other practice areas, such as with family law or criminal law, we don’t get paid by the hour. We don’t charge a flat or fixed fee. Part of the idea behind contingency fee arrangements is that by agreeing in writing with you to accept as our fee a portion of the money we recover for you, you are able to access a lawyer without having to pay him or her upfront (which very often has just thrust you into a very difficult time in your life). In fact, the rules that guide us as lawyers include a rule just about legal fees and provide Florida Bar-approved language that forms the basis of our retainer agreements.
- “No costs or fees unless we win” is pretty standard fare. To ensure that same access to legal help without having to come out-of-pocket up-front, most attorneys will also cover the costs (for example, for postage or medical records or court filing fees) associated with handling your car accident or slip and fall or other injury claims. The costs are then reimbursed out of the money recovered for you.
- Most all of us also offer “free initial consultations.” In other words, you, the consumer, can shop around and interview lawyers before making this important decision. (It also means that if your case is declined, you don’t owe us anything for our time).
Quality matters, too
Beyond size, things like accessibility, experience, results, and that special, hard-to-define, human relatability factor are important aspects to explore and consider as you look for the right attorney for you and your case.
In our decidedly- not-so-big Sarasota law firm of three attorneys and staff, we emphasize and value meeting personally with each new client at the outset. That’s face-to-face with the attorney (i.e., in person or via Zoom, in our office or a place that suits the prospective client).
We’ve assembled an amazing staff that supports us and our clients, but the client is hiring us, not them. In our view, they deserve an opportunity to meet with us. They warrant the chance to size us up, ask their questions and get a feel for how an attorney-client relationship with us will work.
Communication is critical
As our clients’ cases unfold, we also value good and regular communication. We’re communicating with our clients regularly throughout the course of their case. We’re checking in, fielding questions, providing updates, offering guidance, demystifying the process, and importantly, providing honest assessments of their cases.
Likewise, when a client calls or emails us, we, together with our staff, value following up in a timely manner.
Our “decades of combined legal experience” handling thousands of personal injury cases matters too. Past experiences continuously enlighten the path on how to guide our clients and advocate and argue with insurance companies. Likewise, it informs our recommendations as to whether a case should be settled or a lawsuit filed. In litigation, we use it as we fight for our clients against opposing attorneys, at mediations and in court.
Results also matter. The caveat with results is that too often the big money settlements that firms promote only tell part of the story. Case results vary greatly depending on the unique set of facts and circumstances at play in each case. By staying engaged with our clients and their cases, we help them understand how decisions impact results.
Engagement, our experience and reputation help us reach a result that matters.
The ultimate take-away
Quality matters just as much, if not more, than quantity. Our experience and results tell us that clients appreciate what we have to offer and our size is just right. For those looking for good old-fashioned, mom-and-pop personal injury representation, give us a call.