In the last two weeks I was able to take some time off and go on vacation. The first part of my trip took me to the middle of nowhere in Mexico to go white wing dove hunting with a couple of close friends, but mainly with people I had never met. There were 8 of us from Houston. Once there, we met 6 other guys from Dallas. From the moment I stepped onto the small charter plane to fly into to Mexico, I found myself having to defend my profession. Amongst the land developers, an oil & gas tycoon, the president of a national battery company, and even a real estate lawyer, I was somehow the villain. I was a “trial lawyer.”& nbsp;
The first day or so I spent just listening. This is a trick I learned from one of my partners. As people became more relaxed and comfortable around each other, the questions started coming my way. “So, how’s life after tort reform?” “If I shoot myself in the foot, can you sue the lodge for me?” “How can you justify receiving 40% of your client’s recovery?” The list goes on and on. As I sat and calmly defended my clients, my profession, and me, I began to ask questions about why these individuals felt the way they did. As it turns out, none of them had ever been sued before in a personal injury lawsuit nor had any of them ever been the victim of someone else’s negligence. All of these “intelligent, sophisticated, successful” men had merely made assumptions about what my firm and I do based on nothing but rhetoric heard in the media and from politicians and insurance companies. As I dug a little deeper into their attitudes about lawyers, especially “trial lawyers”, I found that several of the men had bad experiences not with plaintiff’s lawyers, but with their own corporate and insurance defense lawyers. The main complaint was overbilling. Being charged for every little thing and having several lawyers working on the same project at the same time. I loved responding by telling them that we don’t charge our clients unless we win. Wow, that shut them up real fast
By the end of the trip, I managed to make several great new friends – friends who are already planning our next hunting trip for next year and friends who would have never given me the time of day merely because of what I do for a living. Now, they have a different outlook on my firm and what we stand for. I guess the point of this whole story is that our battle to help the image of the trial lawyer is fought everyday. No matter what country you are in or who you are speaking to, be proud of the fact that you help so many deserving families seek justice and compensation for the injuries they have suffered as a result of the negligence of another.