What is a Trial Lawyer?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Tom Metier with Metier Law Firm.
While any lawyer can go to trial, not all lawyers are trial lawyers. Trial lawyers pursue specialized training in client advocacy and have more experience in the courtroom than other attorneys that typically deal with out-of-court settlements. If your case is likely to go to trial or you simply want to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to seek out a board-certified trial attorney in the practice area of your case; this ensures that you are prepared with a highly experienced representative if the case is taken all the way to court, and may even serve as a deterrent for low settlement offers from a defendant that wants to avoid a lengthy and difficult trial process.
Trial lawyers are prepared to go to court at any time.
Some attorneys may be more likely to settle out of court than take a case to trial; this isn’t necessarily bad, as many cases can be settled fairly outside of court. However, hiring an attorney with no trial experience could make them more likely to settle for a lower number out of court than you could have received in a jury trial. For personal injury cases, hiring a trial lawyer does not necessarily cost any more than another attorney, but may result in a larger payout if a successful verdict is won. Additionally, trial lawyers will often collect different types of evidence than that collected by another attorney, as some types of evidence might be more important to have in the event of courtroom litigation.
Trial lawyers have more experience in the courtroom.
Courtroom litigation differs significantly from out-of-court negotiations like those conducted to reach a settlement. Client advocacy in the courtroom requires not only a strong understanding of trial procedure but the ability to present evidence and arguments clearly and eloquently before a judge and jury; some attorneys may have more experience/comfort with this than others.
If you are dealing with a catastrophic injury case or an uncooperative defendant, it may be hard to negotiate a fair settlement without going to court; in this case, having a trial attorney who has spent a good deal of their career in the courtroom, knows the judges, and is confident presenting evidence to a jury may give you a better chance at success than an attorney who spends more time out of court than in.
Some defendants keep track of successful trial lawyers to avoid drawn-out legal battles.
It may be surprising to learn that some defendants, such as corporations and organizations that frequently find personal injury claims brought against them, keep track of successful trial attorneys in the area. If the defendant or opposing counsel is familiar with your attorney’s track record for success and fearlessness in the courtroom, they could be far more likely to make a strong settlement offer upfront rather than risk an equally high verdict on top of additional legal costs in trial.
The great news is that hiring a trial attorney does not necessarily cost more than hiring another attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means clients don’t pay unless and until they win their case; this rule of thumb applies to trial lawyers as well as other personal injury lawyers, allowing injured parties and their families to benefit from the strength and experience of a trial attorney without paying exorbitant out-of-pocket costs.
To learn more about settling versus going to trial, or to discuss a potential injury claim, reach out to a trial attorney in your area.