My Cousin Vinny is an open love letter to trial procedure and the deep south. In this three-part series, Jackie Houser shares some of her favorite takeaways from this 90’s classic along with her own sage advice from all her years of trial experience.
Hollywood loves to sell us an underdog story. One that shows that with perseverance and tenacity, anyone can overcome the impossible. Vinny’s story is that of a modern-day hero (in the realm of law) who arrives with the wrong armor (leather jacket and jeans) and no weapons (no criminal law or trial experience), but over the course of his journey, he adapts and collects the right tools for his arsenal (procedure, interviews, pictures, culture, etc.) to eventually triumph in the end (winning the case!).
In the real world, choosing someone so unprepared can be incredibly detrimental to your case and your future. In the movie, Vinny’s cousins had no money and no other options except to depend on Vinny’s free legal services—which reminds us of the adage, “You get what you pay for.” But, in most situations, when we must hire an attorney, we usually have time and opportunity to make a more informed choice and avoid similar mistakes. Below are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right person to represent you and your case.
There are predatory attorneys out there who reach out to you about your accident without you opting in to their communications. These attorneys are not always the best choice. Too many times these law offices get you signed up and then ghost you while they move on to the next accident victim. Just because a law firm reaches out to you quickly does not mean they will be quick to resolve your case. In fact, it would be best to pause and reflect on why they are so eager to sign you up and inquire as to whether there is anyone you know who has been represented by them.
When searching for an attorney to represent you, take notice of their marketing tactics. You can learn a lot about the mission and values of a law firm from what they boast about. Do they focus on their claims of winning their clients millions of dollars or do they focus on the fact that they care about their clients? Also ask yourself what the most important thing is to you. Do you want an attorney who sees you as another paycheck or as a person? Do you want an attorney who you can contact? Do you want an attorney who knows your name?
Without dispute, the best kind of marketing for any attorney is word of mouth. Ask your friends and family who they recommend. Ask folks you know who have been in an accident and hired a lawyer. Who did they hire? Did they like the outcome? How were they treated? Did you get to talk to the guy in the legal advertisement? Or was your case handled by an inexperienced “Cousin Vinny”? Use this information to determine if you would like to work with them and have them represent you.
Your professional relationship with your attorney can last a few months to a few years. You want to make sure you choose someone who you want to work with and who will put in the work on your case. You want to be able to trust this person as they will be offering counsel throughout the process and acting on your behalf. While good advertising serves a purpose, look beyond the predatory marketing and slick legal ads. Find someone who is experienced as well as reputable, respectful, and reliable. At Flexner Houser Injury Law, your case matters is more than advertising slogan; it is the way we do business—one client at a time—with some of the most experienced attorneys and paralegals in the legal field.
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