The Role of Focus in the Personal Injury Profession

Lawyer in a Suit
Michael Ehline, Law Office Study Program Graduate

The bottom line is that in the personal injury law profession, making a buck and protecting your client’s interests means working many more hours than the average lawyer. People see our nice cars, our hot wives and feel zero pity for us, as they watch football on the weekend, and we are preparing trial briefs, motions, and paying experts, just to name a few of the things we pi lawyers are doing when you are engaged in leisurely activities. Making a profit is getting harder and harder for both doctors and lawyers, insofar as a rear end auto soft tissue case is concerned.

Even the more severe injuries are met with a defense firm, or house counsel that will grind away at hourly billing, or even on a paid set sum amount. Either way, their job security is based upon forcing action more favorable to their side than your clients.

Extraneous Issues and Profitability

Becoming an attorney is difficult enough. Studying for a pre-law degree causes many students to wash out before even entering into the field. Reading the law, getting a J.D., and passing the bar, are all steps that further separate the wheat from the chaff. Even after passing the bar, many new attorneys find themselves caught in the dilemma of how to properly utilize their new found status.

The ego a lot of new law school grads have is akin to what a Navy SEAL feels upon graduation BUDS, but far less dangerous, and far easier than even the lowest Marine ever had to endure during basic training. Schools have a vested interest in making you feel important. But at the end of the day, you need to make serious choices and you probably were not trained for any of them in school, or college, unless you owned and ran a business prior to becoming an attorney.

You may have studied in one particular focus area of law, but you will quickly find out how much different fields bleed into one another. For example, Pitchess Motions in California can be brought in civil and criminal cases. And of course, as well all know, a DUI car accident can involve criminal reparations, as well as liability insurance policy restitution and/or indemnification. As you make the decision of whether to work for the state, for yourself, or for an established firm, there are several factors important to remember.

  • The Balance of Food on the Table

There is a balance between what you are passionate for and what might put food on the table. This is especially the case when running your own firm. While environmental law may captivate you, sometimes you are caught processing a real estate deal and need to balance out your passion and your paycheck.

This can be done through a hybrid system. Many attorneys will utilize their entrance to the bar by working for an established firm to garner the experience needed to make the jump into another practice. Sometimes a background in divorce, business, or real estate can be leveraged for to pay the bills and gain contacts needed for the next stage in a career.

No matter what the field a new attorney starts their career in, this time will help form skills that can be transferred for future career moves. The balancing of clients, a case load, and utilization of research is similar between working for someone else or for yourself. Furthermore, years of savings can help make a career transition less of a terrifying prospect and can subsidize the shift into a job more in line with your passion.

Keep all of these factors in mind as you decide which direction you want to take your job path. Years of study and work can and should work hand in hand to create a resume that will both allow you to keep a roof over your head and the focus your need to enjoy your career.

Michael Ehline writes a monthly column in hopes of assisting newly minted attorneys establish themselves in the increasingly competitive legal field. The Los Angeles based tort law attorney heads his own firm, Ehline Law, which specializes in personal injury and auto accident cases.