Lately, I am seeing more and more advertisements, on T.V., on Youtube, on Court TV, on Instagram, on Tik Tok, essentially on every Internet Platform you can think of, of lawyers who tout their legal acumen and ability to get an injured person a lot of money with very little effort. Some of these advertisements have fake clients in them who look perfectly normal, healthy and uninjured, claiming their attorney got them a check for $350,000.00 or some high dollar amount “just like that” with “one call.” Some of these advertisements brag about their lawyers being “trial lawyers” when they actually haven’t even tried very many cases, if any. Some of these advertising lawyers claim to be “elite” (they actually use that word) and yet haven’t even tried 10 cases. Some of these advertisements actually mislead the injured consumer with false statements about what the law and ethical rules allow. Some of these advertisements brag that their lawyers have secured more money in verdicts than any other firm in the “universe” or the “metaverse,” and yet aren’t even licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. Some of these advertising lawyers brag about obtaining a verdict but upon closer inspection, it was a bench trial, decided by a judge, with no opposition. Things that make you go hmmm…. As a Georgia trial lawyer with over 34 years of experience, I am really just plain sick of it.
I want to help the person who has been injured as a result of someone else’s or some entity’s negligence who is looking for a bona fide Georgia Trial Lawyer to represent them with their case, all the way through trial and appeal if necessary. These are things you should know when hiring a trial lawyer.
- Is the attorney actually licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia? Any member of the public can find this out very easily, thanks to the State Bar of Georgia. Simply go to the State Bar’s website, gabar.org, and on the right side you will see a “Member Directory” where you can search for the person’s name. It will tell you if that person is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, where the person went to law school, and when the person first started practicing law in Georgia. This member search on gabar.org will also tell you whether the lawyer has been subject to any public discipline. This tells the consumer how much experience the lawyer has with the law of Georgia. Do you really want to entrust your case to someone who has been a lawyer for only two years? If you are looking at a law firm’s website, you should search every member of the firm here. If only one out of the entire firm is actually licensed to practice law in Georgia, that should tell you how little experience that one Georgia lawyer, in all likelihood, actually has in Georgia law and especially Georgia trial law. Stay away.
- How many jury trials has the lawyer actually tried, from start to finish, to verdict? How many appeals has the lawyer argued in the Georgia Court of Appeals or the Georgia Supreme Court? This information should be readily available on the law firm’s website and, if it’s not, that should tell you all you need to know. They probably don’t have much experience. And if they don’t, they have nothing to back up their settlement demands except fluff, smoke and mirrors. They cannot possibly get an insurance company to pay the full value of your case.
- “You don’t pay anything unless we win.” Many advertising lawyers brag about this, as if they invented the concept. This is misleading, because the truth is ALL plaintiff personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, and the contingency that has to happen before a personal injury lawyer is entitled to a fee is that she/he has to win your case or at the very least recover some money for you. The contingency fee contract must be in writing. Many lawyer advertisements seem to suggest that only their firm works on this basis, but that is simply FALSE. We all work on a contingency fee basis. Don’t be misled.
- “You may fire us within the first 6 weeks if you are not happy with our representation.” Some advertising law “firms” tout this as if this is a selling point that no other lawyer will offer you. Again, this is FALSE. A client may fire any attorney AT ANY TIME in any case. The client remains in control. The attorney is the client’s agent. The attorney cannot keep you in a contract if you, the client, want to get out. It is unethical for any lawyer to suggest otherwise. Beware of any “law firm” that pitches this idea as a selling point. And I use the word “firm” with great hesitancy because the outfits making this sales pitch are really not law firms, but corporations or tech startups that simply sell legal services online and have little or no actual trial law experience in Georgia (see point #1 above). They may actually be tech startups with little or no law experience. Beware.
- “We trust and use data to advise our clients.” Watch out for these tech startup companies trying to pose as Georgia Lawyers and telling you they use data from computer models to tell you the value of your case. What does a computer know about you, your family, and your quality of life before you were injured? You cannot rely on data to determine settlement value. This sales pitch by some advertisers is way off the mark. We are dealing with human damages, not property damage. This tells you these lawyers, who may not even be Georgia trial lawyers, are using computer software programs or “analytics” to tell them the value of your case. This data may come from states other than Georgia, which should have no bearing on your case here. They are not giving you, the client, advice about the value of your case based on years of experience of trying similar cases, knowing the residents of a particular county, knowing the trial judge and having appeared before him or her before, knowing what Georgia juries are likely to do on your case. The best settlements come from having thorough representation that understands the clients’ problems on an individual level and is prepared to take the case to trial. It doesn’t come from having massive amounts of cases, from having lawyers that do not know how to try a case or have never actually tried one, and it does not come from having a computer telling you what the case is worth.
- “You will actually talk to a lawyer when you hire our firm.” What? Do some firms actually represent a client without the client ever having spoken to a lawyer? Huh? I once heard a well-known lawyer say that for small cases in his firm, less than say $25,000.00, he doesn’t even speak to the client and has his paralegal handle the whole case, because it’s much more efficient. He only gets involved in the “big” cases. This is ridiculous and unethical. Watch out for this treatment. If a advertising lawyer has to brag that you will actually talk to a lawyer if you hire that firm, beware. A client is entitled to speak to their attorney at any time during the pendency of their case.
When I agree to take on a case for a client, my promise is that I will treat the client as if they are my family, that I will practice by the Golden Rule, that I will give the client the benefit of my 34 years of experience and knowledge trying jury trials to verdict in Georgia and that I will do everything within the bounds of the law and ethics to achieve the best possible outcome for them. My clients are not simply a number as they are with many other T.V. advertisers. You are the reason I do what I do, striving to achieve Justice for injured families every day.
Robin Frazer Clark is a trial lawyer who pursues justice for those who have personal injury claims as a result of being injured in motor vehicle wrecks, trucking wrecks, defective products, defective maintenance of roads, premises safety, medical malpractice and other incidents caused by the negligence of others. Ms. Clark is the 50th President of the State Bar of Georgia, a Past President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, a Past President of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta and has practiced law in Georgia for 34 years. She is a member of the International Society of Barristers and of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mrs. Clark is listed as one of the Top 50 Women Trial Lawyers in Georgia and is a Georgia Super Lawyer. Ms. Clark is the co-host of the podcast “See You In Court,” sponsored by the Georgia Civil Justice Foundation. Ms. Clark has tried over 75 jury trials and argued in Georgia Appellate Courts over 45 times.
Robin Frazer Clark ~ Dedicated to the Constitution’s Promise of Justice for All.