By Anna Johansson • June 18, 2018•Careers
Law is an exciting field if you enjoy championing a cause and exacting justice. It also provides a comfortable living for attorneys who are good at their job and have a passion for it.
It’s essential to select a specialty of law that you really enjoy. Many law students consider personal injury for their practice.
This is opportunity to work closely with people and, though it’s not without its stresses, the issues in personal injury law are often simpler, more clear-cut, than those in other specialties such as criminal defense or tax law.
But is it the right profession for you? Ideally, you want to find a career that you love and that fulfills you in every way. It’s worthwhile to ask a few key questions about personal injury law if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in that field.
Whom do you wish to represent?
Do you feel you have more in common with business owners or individuals? How would you feel about representing someone whose husband died in a factory accident? Can you handle working with a client who may be experiencing considerable pain and suffering?
Some attorneys recognize immediately that dealing with potential clients who have suffered greatly does not appeal to them. But if you feel a yearning desire to obtain justice for those who are wrongfully injured, this could be the perfect career.
One attorney asserts this is the primary reason he chose to work in personal injury. “Unlike many areas of law that tend to be on the cerebral and abstract side, when someone calls me, they have a real problem,” Jonathan Rosenfeld, a personal injury attorney told Value Penguin.
“They may have been in an accident at work or have a loved one who lost their life unexpectedly due to the fault of another. No one can ever plan for the physical, financial or emotional toll an accident has on them or their family,” he continues.
“My job is to listen to their problem and figure out a way to get them back on track by getting them the compensation that the law entitles them to.”
Does it matter to you if your client receives compensation?
Some types of law feature many claims, but don’t see a lot of payouts. Personal injury claims, on the other hand, are awarded often. You can easily earn your client $200,000 in a simple slip-and-fall case, or more in a serious accident.
For some attorneys, this steady cycle of rewards is what keeps them going. They crave the satisfaction that comes from helping clients who are grateful for help their counsel has rendered.
Other lawyers are attracted by other facets of the law, and that’s all right. You might not have the makings of a good personal injury attorney, but law studies open the door to other opportunities.
Do you care about winning and making money on every single case?
Although personal injury cases have solid success rates, not every claim you file will be successful. Those who have their heart set on winning by every means necessary might direct their skills to another setting.
Keep in mind that your pay will depend on your ability to win cases. “Unlike other lawyers, personal injury lawyers don’t charge an hourly rate,” explains an article from LawyerEdu.org.
“Instead, they accept a percentage of their client’s compensation for punitive damages as payment. In high profile cases, personal injury lawyers may earn as much as 40% of their winning client’s compensation. Payment is made on a contingency basis meaning the plaintiff only pays if the lawyer recovers money on his behalf.”
This means you have the potential to make an extremely massive salary or a fairly low one, depending on your abilities and the cases you attract or find. Your salary is likely not fixed, which can be a turnoff for some who consider pursuing this type of law.
You might also find you have to work for free on occasion. You might spend weeks on a case, only to lose and not see a dime of compensation.
Can you handle not being able to help everyone?
Many personal injury attorneys are driven by the opportunity to help everyone who desperately needs financial help after an injury. This brings satisfaction, but it’s unrealistic to think you can make a difference for every person.
“You also have to accept that you cannot help everyone,” advises Tina Willis, a practicing personal injury attorney. “That’s one cruel reality of this practice area. You cannot make money fall from the sky.
“Therefore, if the defendant is flat broke and has terrible auto insurance coverage, then even the most exceptional legal arguments will be completely useless. So you have to quickly get real with sometimes very distraught clients, if you discover that there is a low policy amount, regardless of the seriousness of their injuries.”
Rejecting clients is not easy, but it’s an undeniable part of becoming a successful personal injury attorney. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs, but if you don’t want to go through this at least a few times in a year, this might not be the best career for you.
Personal injury can be a fulfilling vocation if you feel passionate about it. Think about every aspect of the business before committing.
There are people who need a great lawyer who’s invested in their cause, and if you can fill that role, you’ll be a great fit for this industry!