As a seasoned North Carolina wrongful death lawyer, I have learned by observing some of the best and some of the worst lawyers how the client’s lawsuit can be affected for good or ill by the approach and habits of the lawyer they select to represent them. Judges have definite opinions of the attorneys who come before them. Attorneys’ reputations often are known to the judge and the courthouse personnel before they get there. The jury associates the lawyer with their client and will often look to the judge to see what the judge appears to think of the lawyer. Although judges do a good job of trying not to show bias one way or the other, human nature will tend to cause judges to treat lawyers differently depending upon their personality, preparedness, and professionalism.
1. If the lawyer is a jerk in the way he treats people, no one will want to deal with him. It has taken me 20 years during my career in injury work to realize that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. The attorney should treat the other lawyer and especially the insurance company representative or claims agent courteously. Those are the people who are going to pay the money as they have the checkbook. If you want the check to be as big as possible, there is no reason to be unpleasant unnecessarily. Some lawyers, particularly some who advertise on TV, pretend like being nasty is the same thing as providing strong, aggressive representation. That is not the case. A really good attorney can be a terrific person and a fierce adversary in the courtroom at the same time. A disagreeable counselor that no one likes will hurt the client’s case.
2. Some attorneys just don’t work hard enough and are not prepared in court. The view of your counsel as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about and isn’t ready will definitely rub off in the court’s view of the case. You definitely don’t want to hire an attorney who comes into court without doing their homework. Amazingly, there are numerous attorneys who have been doing personal injury law for a long time that fall into this category.
3. Professionalism and reputation for honesty matters. If the court knows that you have a lawyer who tends to make things up or misrepresent the facts, then your side will tend to lose a lot of the arguments before the court. The judge will just assume that the lawyer is not to be believed. In court, credibility is king! The jury has to like you and believe you to want to give you money for your case. This starts with your advocate. When the jury doesn’t believe that your lawyer is always exact and a master of the facts, then they will look to the insurance defense lawyer to tell them the truth about what happened in your accident.