Well, you know, in the state of Illinois and also Missouri, attorneys are not supposed to use language like specialized. However, it is very important to make sure you’re working with an attorney who has a lot of experience, somebody who has focused their practice in that one area for a long time, and that’s why it’s great to work with somebody like David, somebody like Rick because they’ve both been doing that particular kind of work pretty much their whole entire careers.
You’re right. I mean, it is something that, because workers’ compensation, it’s different from, say a car accident. It’s a different court altogether. It’s a workers’ compensation administrative court, and so we have a different set of rules, different set of procedures. Those who may practice in motor vehicle accidents may not necessarily understand all the rights and remedies and procedures of those of us who practice exclusively in the workers’ compensation realm. I know for myself, having done this for 25 years exclusively in work comp, we’ve been able to see the changes in the law, and that’s also helped us to not only identify the changes but also to predict some of the future changes, but it’s rather interesting that in my seven and a half years as a defense attorney, when I first began, I started as a defense attorney, and I would see the occasional civil attorney that would try to handle the rare workers’ compensation case in their office. You could see that they weren’t as knowledgeable regarding the procedures and the methodologies of work comp.
I think it is really important that you, if you’re looking for an attorney to handle your workers’ compensation case, make sure that they have the level of experience. The best way to do that is ask them. What percentage of your practice is work comp? How many cases have you taken to trial? How many cases have you handled? I mean, these are all fair questions because after all, you’re interviewing your attorney in much the same way that the attorney is interviewing you.
I think that’s funny that you point out of that you’re doing defense work for about seven and a half years because that’s really right about the same amount of time that I did defense work. I think it’s really important especially to have that focus in a specific area like in workers’ compensation. You just become more comfortable with not only the material, the case law, everything that goes into it, but it really helps you, you see kind of some of the same issues. I think that comfort level really makes you able to help explain the process to the clients at least. That’s kind of how I approach it is I think it’s really important to help people who haven’t been through this process to really kind of understand the process and the rules and how does it affect them in their particular circumstances.
I also find that it’s interesting that I found that some of the best plaintiff attorneys on the work comp side were those who started or had some years of experience on the defense side because you got to see how the other side handled the case, what the adjusters were thinking, what the defense attorneys were thinking. It’s helped because you can predict what that adjuster may or may not do, where if you may have only done plaintiff work, you may not have ever seen that other side of it. You may not have seen some of the other aspects of it, say for instance, how it affects experience ratings, how it may be a crossover account or a closed account, some of those types of issues that we knew on the defense side, but you may not necessarily know on the plaintiff side, but now, we know since we’ve crossed over doing plaintiff work.
Sure. I think the work comp community is, the legal community is a pretty small community, and you get to know the other attorneys and the arbitrators, and I think that really helps give our clients a better idea of what can we expect in their case. Hey, here’s the defense attorney that I’m dealing with, and here’s kind of the approach that I think is best to take in your case.
I think it helps not only for settlement value because we know some judges have different settlement values, different ranges, but it also helps us when we go to trial because if we know a judge has certain aspects that they’re looking for, certain things that they focus in on as part of their trials, part of their awards, and we know that from having been in front of them several times, that helps us because then, we can focus our questions on essentially answering what we know the judge will be looking for in the case. To us, that’s the part of the experience that you can’t learn in a law book. You can’t read a case that says this is what you have to do. The only way you get that is by having had those trials again and again in front of these arbitrators.
Yeah, and definitely, that level of predictability that you want to be able to share with your client. Here’s how the process will generally proceed, and here are the facts of your case, and help them understand as we work through the process and kind of adjust as we go through that.