Maybe you were the type of kid who always knew what you wanted to do for a living. When people asked the 5-year-old you what you were going to be when you grew up, you proudly answered, “I’m going to be a lawyer,” and everyone praised your practical career choice.
Few, if any, adults posing this question likely followed up with 5-year-old you by asking, “So, what type of law do you want to practice? Are you considering civil litigation?” It’s a good thing they didn’t ask for specifics, because most young people hoping to practice law need time to figure out what type of law they want to practice. In some cases, it takes an attorney years to find his or her groove in the profession.
You’ve read about high-profile criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors. You’ve sat in awe of lecturers talking about the important work of constitutional lawyers. There’s no shortage of material on these areas of law, but we want to talk about an often-overlooked practice area and why you should consider it in your career.
Personal injury attorneys don’t get a fair shake. There’s no need for us to review the jokes and insulting nicknames hurled at us. We’ve all heard them.
What we want to do is make the case for practicing personal injury law, not because it’s practical and, in some cases, financially rewarding. Those things can certainly be true, but they don’t tell future attorneys why there is a value in this area of the law that goes beyond the superficial “dollars-and-cents” argument.
It’s a Difficult, Competitive Field – And It’s Incredibly Rewarding
Don’t buy the argument that becoming a personal injury lawyer is simply a default choice for attorneys looking to make a living. In truth, there are countless personal injury attorneys willing to represent injured people. But not all of them provide the same level of dedicated legal representation to their clients.
Once you’ve made the decision to practice personal injury law, you quickly realize two things. First, you have plenty of competition. Some attorneys handle a higher volume of cases, while others specialize in the most severe cases. There is room in our system for all of these attorneys. You can find your place in this field by finding your niche, or by simply offering a level of service and legal representation that gives you an advantage over your competition.
The second lesson you’ll learn very quickly is that there is a real demand for the services of a personal injury attorney. Every day, people are injured by others and left to foot the bill for someone else’s mistakes. The more powerful and wealthy the at-fault party is, the more the injured person is given the short end of the stick, which leads us to our next argument in favor of civil litigation…
You Have the Opportunity to Help People
The stereotype of personal injury attorneys paints an unflattering picture of a greedy attorney representing greedy clients. Talk to any successful personal injury attorney and you’ll find out that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Clients come to personal injury attorneys at one of the most difficult points in their lives, and they need an advocate that will stand up for their rights against the interests of a formidable, well-funded opponent.
When you practice personal injury law, you have the chance to help people who are being wronged and taken advantage of. Insurance companies, manufacturers, trucking companies, healthcare providers – these organizations can get away with some egregious behavior if left unchecked. Personal injury lawyers help level the playing field for individuals who aren’t given a fair deal.
It might be overkill to start throwing around terms like “altruism” or “a public service” when talking about personal injury claims, but it’s totally fair to say that plaintiff’s attorneys help otherwise marginalized people. You will come across clients who have been overlooked, exploited, and lied to. You will help them get compensation that is rightfully theirs, and you’ll take pride in the work you do.
You’ll Also Be Inspired by Your Clients
Attorneys who work in the grind of personal injury law know how bad things can get for everyday people. Many of our systems are set up to favor the haves over the have-nots. Personal injury attorneys regularly sound the alarm over manufacturers that sell dangerous medical devices or insurance companies that regularly act in bad faith toward policyholders.
Any personal injury attorney who is good at his or her job will maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and righteous indignation about the challenges facing “the little guy,” which is essentially all of us. What regularly surprises personal injury attorneys is how so many clients maintain courage and composure in the face of serious injuries.
Some clients will be challenging and have a completely justifiable attitude about their obstacles. But more often than not, clients have a resolve that gives you hope and inspires you to keep doing what you do.
When you truly make a difference in the life of an injured client, you see how important your role is in society. Personal injury attorneys know that an injury affects more than the injured person; it affects their family, friends, workplaces, and communities. You quickly realize that by helping an injured person get their life back to normal, you’re also helping everyone that client’s life touches.
A Noble Profession
Like any type of legal practice, personal injury law has certain aspects that are mundane and repetitive. Fortunately, those aspects are offset by the ever-changing nature of our business. Laws change. People need help because of new challenges society presents. Your services will always be needed, and you’ll find the work incredibly engaging and rewarding.
Some types of law are glamorized, while others are conveniently dismissed. Personal injury law might not get the acclaim of other types of legal practices, but it is so vital to peoples’ everyday lives that this is understandable. It’s easy to be cynical about the services that personal injury attorneys provide, but that cynicism goes away quickly when you or someone you love is taken advantage of.
A personal injury legal practice is just as noble as any other profession. Remember, when you choose the type of law you want to practice. Personal injury attorneys aren’t doing their jobs because it is convenient, lucrative, or easy. It’s challenging on many levels, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling jobs you could have.
About the Author
Mr. Terry Bryant is a Former Judge and Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Since 1985, Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law has been representing injured people to help them win the compensation they deserve.