How To Start A Career As A Personal Injury Attorney

Start A Career As A Personal Injury Attorney
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Starting a career as a personal injury attorney isn’t for the faint of heart. 

It requires hard work, dedication to your clients and justice, and more importantly — a willingness to fight against insurance companies and corporations that put their profits over their customer safety. 

But, a career as a personal injury lawyer could be the right fit for you if you enjoy problem-solving, negotiating, and the potential to win a successful case that could be worth millions. 

This profession comes with risks, and it takes a long time to obtain the necessary education and results. However, it could be worth it if you have the passion to help people in some of the hardest times of their lives.

So how exactly do you start a successful career as a personal injury attorney? Let’s find out. 

Understand What You’re Getting Into

Before thinking about getting into the world of personal injury, you need to know what you’re getting into. 

Take a moment to think about the clients and cases most injury lawyers choose to take on. Their clients are likely going through one of the worst times of their lives. 

These people or their loved ones have been seriously injured or lost their lives due to the negligence of a third party or individual. Think about how you, as a personal injury attorney, will be the beacon of hope for your client. 

It’s also important to keep in mind the various types of cases that you will be taking on. Some of the most common cases include: 

  1. Car Accidents 
  2. Slips and falls
  3. Dog Bites
  4. Medical Malpractice
  5. Product Liability

With these types of injury cases, there are numerous challenges that can encompass the world of personal injury law.

For example, after a car accident, the insurance company of an at-fault driver usually has an experienced legal team by their side, and they will do everything they can to minimize the compensation your client deserves. 

And even in cases other than car accidents, the same situation often arises where large government entities or corporations don’t want to pay what they are entitled to. 

With these aspects of personal injury to keep in mind, you need to have a spirit of persistence and grit to help guide you through these challenges. 

You also need to know how to form the best legal arguments, with a spirit of resilience at the same time. 

More importantly, one of the best skills to have as an attorney is effective communication. You need to have the ability to communicate with potential clients as well as another group of attorneys if you end up working at a large law firm. 

Prioritizing strong communication not only has the power to build trust with your clients, but also to present a crystal-clear case in the courtroom. 

Complete The Educational Requirements

Before starting a career as a personal injury lawyer, you need to obtain the necessary education. The first step is getting an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree.

It’s important that what you study is relevant to the field of law, as most pre-law students study the fields of philosophy, history, or political science. 

On top of your undergraduate studies, the main requirement for getting into law school is the LSAT

Exorbitant amounts of preparation and training are required for this test, as a higher score indicates that you are a better fit to get into a prestigious law program, such as NYU or Harvard. 

After law school acceptance, if you’re interested in plaintiff’s work, be sure to focus on courses that can give you a strong foundation about what you might be doing as a practicing attorney.

Build Your Professional Network And Gain Practical Experience

During law school, you should take the necessary steps to build your professional network and connections that can land you a big role after graduation. 

You can start by getting connected with a number of reputable organizations, such as the American Association for Justice or even a Student’s Plaintiffs Club. 

After joining these clubs, the next step is to utilize these connections to potentially gain an internship or a job after graduation. 

Obtaining a prestigious internship at a personal injury law firm requires extensive amounts of time, preparation, and a willingness to succeed.

During this time, it’s also important to see if a role in these types of law firms is the right one for you. It’s common for most students after graduating from law school to take on a role they may not enjoy, but it’s a learning experience for these students. 

Another tip that can be more beneficial than you think is to optimize your online presence, utilizing platforms such as LinkedIn to your advantage. 

There are frequent job postings for personal injury lawyers that are not taken advantage of. So make sure to take the right steps to stand out from the competition and get the job you want after graduating from law school. 

Develop Specialized Skills That Can Be Relevant

In the field of personal injury law, there’s little to no room for error. 

A weak argument or poor litigation skills can result in more lost cases, a worse reputation, and more money out of your pocket. It’s also important to keep in mind that most of these firms work on what’s called a “contingency fee” basis. 

So if you end up winning your client’s case, you get a percentage of that settlement. Usually, the percentage is between 30 and 40% of the settlement, depending on case costs and how many resources are required to win your client’s case. 

With most plaintiff’s firms adopting this fee structure, know that if you don’t win, your client won’t pay. And let’s say that you hire experts to strengthen your case, and then you end up losing in trial, and now you have to front-load all of those costs yourself. On top of that, you and your colleagues don’t get a large paycheck. 

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that laws are always changing and that, as a lawyer, you need to stay familiar with legal precedents as well as updated laws and statutes. 

Depending on where you practice, the laws will vary by state. For example, in the state of California, the laws that are written are often in favor of the plaintiff or party that is suing the defendant. 

A specific example in California is SB 428, which expands on the definition of harassment and also expands on the state’s workplace violence restraining order law to protect against certain kinds of workplace harassment. 

So, chances are, laws similar to SB 428 will strengthen your case if you are a plaintiff’s lawyer who focuses on workplace discrimination lawsuits. 

Establish Your Reputation As A Lawyer

Lastly, the most important part to achieving success as a lawyer is to establish your reputation. And this part doesn’t come overnight. 

An example of a career success story is the story of a personal injury attorney in Bellevue, Washington, Greg Colburn.

Greg’s career as a plaintiff’s attorney is not a typical one. It all started when he was working a construction job in college. He was climbing up a ladder to help out with newly installed roofing material with a subcontractor. As Greg was climbing up the ladder, he fell more than twenty feet from the rooftop, suffering from catastrophic fractures and dislocations. 

During the process, the subcontractor negligently installed the roofing material, failing to comply with laws and regulations on rooftop safety. 

After that incident, Greg was determined to fight against the negligent subcontractor and company that changed his life for the worse. He then contacted multiple personal injury law firms, being rejected not only once but over 80 times. 

Months later, he convinced a lawyer to help him work on his case on the condition that he do most of the work himself. And after spending over two years in a wheelchair and years of fighting, he ultimately won a $1 million settlement for his injuries. 

Greg’s story as a personal injury attorney demonstrates his passion for the profession and a willingness to fight against the companies and people that changed his life. And if you end up pursuing this career path, know that it can take years and hundreds of hours of time to win a case that could be life-changing. 

Know If This Path Is Right For You Today

In summary, you can know if the path into personal injury law is right for you by: 

  1. Understanding the profession
  2. Completing the educational requirements
  3. Building your professional network and gaining experience
  4. Developing specialized skills
  5. Establishing your reputation as a lawyer

By following these steps, you can build a successful career as a personal injury attorney and start to fight for the justice that your clients deserve.  

Remember that this career is not for everyone, but if you have the passion and persistence, it can be an ultimately fulfilling one. 

The content published on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, health or other professional advice.

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