So here’s what Alan Shanoff said in the Toronto Sun on July 18th re: Can you trust your lawyer http://bit.ly/29P03h7 My interpretation anyway:
a) There is a group of lawyers out there who are playing the public for fools. They spend millions of dollars on glossy advertising and great dentistry to lure clients in. Then, they swap them out to other lawyers. For a fee. A big fee.
b) There’s a group of lawyers out there who are offering second opinions to other lawyers’ clients so they can try and steal them away from the first lawyer.
I think I’ve got it right. I do. I can also confirm that he’s correct. I see it every day.
I’m an injury lawyer. I live in Kingston and my law firm, Bergeron Clifford, has offices in Whitby, Perth, and Ottawa. For a long time, the lawyers that Alan Shanoff is talking about stayed away from Kingston, Perth, and Ottawa. They were ankle deep in Whitby and neck deep in Toronto. Now we are seeing them more in the East region too.
As an injury lawyer, my job is to understand my client’s story and then tell it. Tell it in a way that allows an insurance adjuster, a judge or a jury to find it in their hearts to compensate my client fairly for a loss arising out of injury. Usually, my clients are entitled to loss of income but other things as well such as pain and suffering and the cost of medical treatment or therapy into the future. Judges, juries, and insurance adjusters aren’t stupid. They know the difference between right and wrong. They allow fair compensation when it’s right to do so. When I meet a new potential client I listen carefully to the story they tell and if the story fits if it sounds right that the person across from me should be compensated and if it makes sense economically, I take that person on as a client. My law practice is a business. I’m here to help vulnerable injured people but also to make money for my business. To do my job well, I have to know the difference between right and wrong. How in the world could I criticize a judge, jury or insurance adjuster for getting it wrong if I don’t know the difference myself?
My point is this: good lawyers know the difference between right and wrong. And, this is the important part, it means something to them.
We, at Bergeron Clifford, do not take on referrals from these high volume brokerage firms that Alan Shanoff is talking about in his article. We never, ever encourage clients to leave their existing lawyer. If a client has a lawyer and wants to come to us, we browbeat them into staying where they are or at least ensuring that they’ve done everything they can to save the existing relationship.
Time has moved on and this in no longer 2005 unfortunately. The high volume advertisers who have no real intention of doing the work, but who instead just want to sign a client up and then ship them out to another lawyer (for a hefty referral fee) are here in Eastern Ontario. There are bus wraps and overpass signs and a sea of Internet pop-up ads for lawyers who probably can’t find Kingston on a map and who probably have no idea what sport the Ottawa Red Blacks play.
As for the lawyers who draw in clients to lure them away from existing lawyers, I can only say that scum floats initially but sinks eventually. You get what you pay for. Law and advocacy are not fast food. The wheels of justice grind slowly but ever so fine. If you get a sweet talking lawyer who promises to churn through your case faster than your current lawyer, watch out for chunks. Fast justice can be rough justice and is seldom easy to digest.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the proper way to find an injury lawyer. Ask someone you trust. Ask a lawyer that lives and works in your community. Ask your boss. Ask someone who has been involved in the process of an injury claim. If you want to get creative ask for the names of three firms. If one lawyer or firm keeps coming up, you’ve got a winner. I can guarantee you this, none of the high volume brokerage law firms are going to be on the list of recommendations. Why? Easy. Getting you in the door is marketing. Serving your needs is advocacy. When your future’s on the line after a serious injury, it’s important to know the difference.
If you don’t have someone to ask, call me, I’ll tell you that Bergeron Clifford does great work (because we do) and if you like, I’ll give you the names of whom I think are the three best injury lawyers in your community outside of Bergeron Clifford. If you hire one of those lawyers, they won’t owe me a referral fee (though if they offer to buy me a beer when I see them next, I won’t say no). All of our lawyers are accessible all of the time (though we discourage calls during dinner). Our clients have access to our cell numbers and can call or text anytime. Accessibility is not a marketing phrase at Bergeron Clifford. My cell number is 613-453-2642 if you have any questions.