Nowdoucit from Slabbed wrote a comment to my post, Surplus Lines Insurers, Sinkholes, and the Law of Mars, concerning the selection of lawyers:
"The more cases I read, the more convinced I become of the importance of retaining an attorney experienced in insurance claims litigation – better yet, experienced and successful.
The case you cited, Chip, is a different but compelling example of the difference that can make."
I should have just agreed and told him to hire the Merlin Law Group. Instead, I wrote:
"Experience certainly helps do a better job for the client. But, it is no guarantee.
When I was a younger attorney, I hated to admit that experiences as a lawyer, and in life, made a difference in the quality of my representation. Now that I am older, there are so many reasons why I know that I am a much better attorney than 25 years ago. Much of it has to do with learning subtle aspects of human communication and interaction.
Still, I sometimes have the opportunity to get brought into a case with less experienced attorneys that look at matters with a fresh viewpoint. There are many very bright and hardworking attorneys, with little prior insurance experience, that do a very fine job helping policyholders. I try to learn from them as well, and take from them the best of their ideas…"
Nowdoucit was right, and I was wrong.
I thought about this on Saturday morning while eight of our attorneys were in deep discussion with an expert claims consultant about the presentation of insurance cases to juries. It was a beautiful day outside; I could see people milling about and enjoying a free concert. I wondered how many other law firms were working on such a beautiful day, flying in attorneys from other offices to teach how to do a better job for their clients — specifically on insurance cases where they represent policyholders. I’ll bet that the answer to that is zero.
The discussion among us was pretty brutal at times. You do not help others get better at something by just letting them slide by when they do the wrong technique. Eventually, the trial presentation topic changed to reaching settlement after a heated battle with an insurance company. Kelly Kubiak has been quite successful for her clients over the past year and she was trying to articulate her perception of what was working for her. I interrupted and said, "Kelly, you are passionate about your clients and you have experience and maturity. You are a better attorney than you were five years ago because you now have a deeper feeling and anticipation for what works and does not work in a given situation."
Practice makes virtually everything better. Golfers, tennis players, piano players, and poker players get better through practice, study, and experience. The practice of law is no different. And when it comes to representing clients with serious issues, the practice part should have been done long ago.