Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 17, 2020

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While many people think that attorneys may be a dime a dozen, nothing could be further from the truth. Barry J. Simon, a California personal injury attorney who has been a tort litigator representing victims against insurance and other large companies for nearly 30 years, has a different philosophy when it comes to representing his clients. He explained his firm’s philosophy and why experience and reputation really matter.

A different philosophy. Simon’s philosophy is a bit different than some attorneys who deal in volume. He told us that he keeps a low case load and spends a lot of time with his clients:

I contact them by phone or email almost every day. I tell them, “I need these documents, or I need this and that,” and they seem to love the fact that their attorney doesn’t wait for them to call – I call them and want information from them so I can diligently pursue the case. I put that as my highest priority. I think the biggest problem clients have with lawyers is not returning phone calls, not handling their case thoroughly or putting a paralegal on it. I always handle my cases thoroughly and personally.

Why an attorney’s experience really matters. Having practiced law for 30 years, Simon told us why he thinks an attorney’s experience is crucial in representing clients. He provided an example from his early practice years:

When I first passed the bar in 1979, I got a job in San Diego as a personal injury lawyer for a defense firm. I handled an arbitration and then they tried to have me do a trial. I turned it down because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. So, my own past tells me that clients seeking an attorney should look for somebody with a lot more experience than somebody fresh out of law school or with only one or two years’ experience under they’re belt. Its unfortunate because new lawyers need to get experience but they typically work for firms which allows them to get the experience they need over a few years.

Does an attorney’s experience in knowing judges, arbitrators and mediators make a difference?

Unfortunately I think it does have some impact. It shouldn’t because justice should be blind. However, there are mediators that I like to use who know me, know that I take serious cases and that I’m a good lawyer. They’ll tell the other side that, so it helps resolve the case if I go to mediation. In terms of trial, I don’t know that it has that much of an impact. Judges are still judges and even if they know you and respect you, unless they have a conflict of interest, it really doesn’t make a difference.

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