There are several key considerations to reflect on prior to starting your own practice in the field of personal injury. Laws differ from state to state, so this article will focus solely on the laws of Las Vegas, Nevada, although this article is general in nature and will therefore be applicable any attorney starting any type of practice in any state. Below you’ll find some key considerations from Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, J.W. Boyer of The Injury Firm Las Vegas:
Source of Clients/New Cases
The first item on this checklist is acquiring clients. Clients are the lifeblood of any type of legal practice, however, in the field of personal injury, it is crucial. If you are not getting new cases, then your firm is not growing and will eventually implode. Getting new clients in the field of personal injury is exceedingly difficult. Most regions, like Las Vegas, Nevada, have so much competition, it is almost unbearable. Every time that you turn on the television, you will see an advertisement for a personal injury attorney. Every time that you go on the freeway, you will see billboards littering the roadways, making claims such as “we are the best” or “voted top injury attorney”. Not only does this make the market over-saturated, if makes this type of advertising is almost cost prohibitive to an up and coming attorney. Other options include networking with healthcare professionals and other type of fields that are involved in the personal injury market. This is a dangerous tactic however, and should be proceeded with extreme caution. It is legally unethical for an agent of an attorney to solicit the services of a law firm within 45 days of the event that gives rise to the representation. Which means that if you have a friend that works in a hospital, they are not allowed to solicit your services to a patient. That does not apply however, if the patient asks your friend for their recommendation. So you can see that it is definitely a grey area and can get you into trouble if you are not careful. Another way to gain cases is to capitalize on the internet. There are many ways that you can do this. You can craft a website. The major issue here is whether you can get any traffic to that site. The personal injury filed in Las Vegas is so oversaturated that you literally have hundreds of attorneys fighting for the first page on google. The amount of time, effort, and money that goes into ranking a website could prove very difficult to an new car accident attorney. Many other lawyers bypass standard search engine optimization for paid advertising online. This can also be effective but will cost you some money up front to get the ball rolling on brining in some fresh negligence cases. One other consideration that is not commonly utilized to its full potential is social networking. Almost everyone has a facebook and/or instagram profile. A great source of new cases is through your friends and family. If you remind your friends and family on a semi regular basis (but not too much so it gets irritating) that you would be happy to help any victims of car accidents or slip and falls in your area, such as Las Vegas, Nevada, then they could be an excellent source of referrals. Last but not least is the standard word of mouth referrals, this is when you do a good job on a clients case and they return the favor by telling their friends and family how wonderful you were as their lawyer, this is a very effective marketing tool that should be exploited to its full potential.
Hiring Employees and Keeping Them Happy
Another consideration for a lawyer starting a fresh practice is determining how many employees they need to thrive. A new law firm should hire the least amount of employees possible when starting out. Payroll is a significant burden on law firms and is often times the straw that broke the camels back when firms go belly-up. This is a scary situation and you do not want to put yourself into a situation where you need to let people go because you cannot make payroll. Employees depend on their salary, however small it might seem, and if you hire someone, in my opinion, you have a fiduciary duty to keep them happy and paid for so long as they are performing well for you. I have seen lawyers that own firms get lazy and try to hire as much help as they can in order to do as little work as possible. This is surely a pathway to failure. After doing this, these lawyers find themselves out of touch with their clients, their cases, and sometimes the intricacies of the law. This is a slippery slope and a real danger to any owner of a law firm. Point here is to stay as involved as possible, thereby hiring as little help as possible and try to do as many things that you can do on your own, without any assistance until your firm is a shining success story.
You should remember that your employees are human, too. That their job is likely worse than yours and probably more difficult/stressful as well. How would you like to step into the shoes of your paralegal? Not very likely. Therefore, you should demonstrate your appreciation, often. Thank them, often. Show an interest in their everyday lives. You should engage them to make sure that they feel like you are important to them.
Managing Your Cases
Managing cases can become difficult quickly if you do not have the proper procedures in place to manage your cases efficiently and effectively. You should develop a filing system that works for you and make sure that your calendar is always up to date. Failing to put something on a calendar can not only be a source of embarrassment, it can lead to sanctions or malpractice if it is a serious deadline. You should not only calendar important court deadlines, but also block out time that you need to review your files, do book keeping, and other tasks that can sometimes be put on the back-burner because they are not fun or exciting. In addition to keeping a strong calendar system, you should also alway make sure to do regular reviews of your files, call your clients to make sure that they are doing okay, i.e. see where they are at with their treatment. You should regularly contact adjusters after sending demands to see if you can get them to quickly make an offer or improve on an offer in order to avoid litigation. The amount of work that you can put into a file seems almost endless but you should regularly keep up with them to keep your clients happy and your cases in the proper posture.
Closing Out Cases ASAP
Another important thing that you need to consider is closing out personal injury cases as quickly as possible. As soon as a client is done treating, you should have their medical records ready to go. You should prepare and review a demand package to send to an adjuster within 30 days of the client finalizing treatment. There is very little excuse for this not to happen, and if it takes longer, clients will get upset and you could potentially lose them. This is the last thing that you want considering how hard you worked to get the case in the first place. Upon settlement you should quickly negotiate the medical bills and without delay obtain any final insurance liens, such as those from Medicare, Medicaid, and any other ERISA sponsored health insurance company. Also be on the lookout for any health insurance companies (even private ones) that put you on notice of a lien. Protect lienholder’s interests but also protect your client’s interests by getting the liens as low as possible to maximize the amount of money going into your client’s pocket. Once this is done, you have an ethical duty to quickly pay out the client. Remember the quicker your client gets paid, the quicker that you will get paid as well. You will get money that you can in turn put back into your business. It is a revolving door and you need to get cases in and out as fast as possible.
I hope that these considerations have been helpful to your understanding of starting your own practice in the field of personal injury. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact any of the attorneys at the Injury Firm Las Vegas.