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When you go to a big law firm, or one that is headed a famous lawyer, the chances you will get the “big gun” to handle your medical malpractice or dental malpractice case are slim, unless you have a very big case or a class-action suit. You will probably be directed to one of the other members of the firm, who will handle your case from beginning to end. Chances are that none of the other lawyers in the firm will work on it or even meet with you.
The lawyers in a firm are divided into partners, who are the owners and experienced lawyers. Associates are employees and trainees. If the lawyer assigned to your case is an associate, it means you have the second team. Lawyers usually do not gain the skills and experience to become partner much under the age of 40. You should be aware of this, if you are turned over to a young attorney in a large law firm.
There are a number of reasons why a law firm would hand off your medical malpractice case or dental malpractice case to an associate. Maybe they want to bring him along, so he will become a skilled malpractice lawyer. Maybe they do not think much of your case, and the senior partners do not want to waste time on it. A good lawyer charges hundreds of dollars an hour, and medical malpractice and dental malpractice are not considered legal charity work. No matter how strongly you feel about your case, your lawyer regards it as an investment and money-making venture. Like any other investment, he has to see enough, potential pay-off to justify the time and money he will spend. You cannot expect a senior partner to spend months preparing your case, if it is not likely to earn him a large fee.
The Rule Is: If you find yourself talking to an associate or a young lawyer, ask him who will be in charge of your case. Insist on talking to that person. If you get the run around, or it is not someone to your liking, consult other law firms until you find a lawyer you like. No matter how large the law firm, or how famous the senior partner, you are dealing with one individual lawyer. If he makes an error in your case, the names on the letterhead, and the elegant office, will not do you any good. It is your case, and your money, and there is no second prize if you lose.
Since 1978, JD.MD, Inc. has proudly served the U.S. and Canadian legal communities in helping determine if a malpractice case has merit. Malpractice lawyers can contact us at jdmd.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-225-5363.