Articles Posted in inspiration for the trial lawyer

No, Virginia, your jury verdicts for injured men, women and children are not excessive or “out-of-control.”

The American Tort Reform Association — “ATRA” — has published its list of “Judicial Hellholes” of 2006 … and, Virginia, you are not on its list. You are not even an “Honorable Mention,” and you are not even on the “Watch List.” One sure way to get on the list? Allow runaway jury verdicts.

No doubt Virginia’s absence from this list will come as a great surprise to Virginia jurors who long have been besieged with the cries of ATRA and the insurance companies and corporations to the effect that jury awards for the injured are “everywhere” out-of-control.

If you are a personal-injury lawer in the conservative state of Virginia or elsewhere in the land of tort reform, this is my admittedly provocative view — employed by my firm over the past six (6) years or so — of how to obtain just personal-injury settlements for your clients:

1. Don’t just dabble in personal-injury cases; the insurance defense lawyer is too good for that, and he will only smile as he runs over you while you are dabbling.

2. Study and read about how to be a better trial lawyer. If you don’t enjoy much of what you are reading, try something else (not just another book; try another line of work).

If you have been a trial lawyer for long, you likely have heard of Gerry Spence’s famous final plea in just about every closing argument . From his latest book, Win Your Case, Spence speaks to the jury on behalf of little Polly:

Before I leave you I want to share with you a story I tell in nearly every case. It’s about transferring the responsibility of the case from us, on behalf of little Polly and her parents, to you, the jury.

It’s a story of a wise old man and a smart-aleck boy who wanted to show up the wise old man as a fool.

A few weeks ago I learned that one of Virginia’s most distinguished personal-injury trial lawyers had suffered a bitter defeat. We need folks to continue to make the good fight, and I wanted to let him know of my respect for his courage in fighting the good fight against the odds.

I did not have far to look for my inspiration. I looked to my office wall and saw the fighting words of the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt that have sustained me as I approached a battle or reeled from a stinging defeat:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

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