Short Answer: Nothing.
Most corporate defendants, insurance companies, and “tort reformers” would have you believe that plaintiffs and their greedy lawyers have caused increased health care costs, inflation, joblessness, global famine, and any other social ill they can muster.
I feel like this “greedy plaintiff’s lawyer” sentiment keeps a lot of law students from choosing this side of the bar.
The greedy plaintiff’s lawyer myth
Take a step back and consider the following: the vast majority (if not all) of the above parties have huge amounts of money that allow them to influence laws and legislation in their favor.
They also have the ability to hire armies of expensive defense lawyers (who bill by the hour).
On the other hand, the average well deserving plaintiff (i.e. the average American citizen) often doesn’t have the financial resources needed to pay an hourly lawyer to have his or her day in court when they have been harmed by a defective product or seriously injured by an insured person, hospital, or corporation.
The reason I love being a plaintiff’s lawyer is because without us, what legal recourse does the average person have? We protect the injured plaintiff’s Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury.
What these big corporations aren’t telling you about “greedy” plaintiff’s lawyers is that we assume all the risk. Our clients have their day in court because we believe strongly enough in their access to justice that we agree to work on a contingency basis.
Client doesn’t recover for their damages? We don’t get paid.
If a criminal defense law firm loses a case, they are still going to bill the client. As a plaintiff’s lawyer, I’m funding the case with my own money because I believe in the case and I believe in my client’s Constitutional rights.
Justice over money
Walk into my office – you won’t see large aquariums stocked with tropical fish, nor will you see an office lined with the latest expensive décor. I don’t know any plaintiff’s lawyers who are wasting money on stuff like that. Most of the plaintiff’s lawyers I know are pouring their own money into every case they handle, betting their financial futures on the outcome of the client’s case.
Does that sound like greed?
So the next time you hear about a large verdict in favor of a plaintiff or hear that someone you know was fully and fairly compensated for a harm or loss caused by someone else’s negligence, know that it was a good plaintiff’s lawyer that got that result and that it was the right result.
I can assure you that the plaintiff’s lawyer I just described is someone committed to representing the 99 percent – not a 1-percenter hiding behind a computer and an answering service. It’s easy to believe that the scales of justice are tilted in favor of those who have money (lots of money). Plaintiff’s lawyers bring balance to the equation and we are proud to do it.
So, if you’re trying to decide whether plaintiff’s work is the right choice for you, please don’t buy into any of that “greedy plaintiff’s lawyer” non-sense when making your decision.