10 Reasons Criminal Defense Lawyers Make Great Plaintiff Personal Injury Lawyers:


The next generation of great plaintiff personal injury lawyers are working in the criminal courts right now.  Former criminal lawyers make excellent civil trial attorneys because they have extensive jury trial experience.  Having a comfort level in front of juries allows criminal lawyers to quickly take advantage of the settlement leverage, created when a trial date is assigned to a personal injury case.

Here are the top ten reasons why lawyers working in the criminal courts, including criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, JAG Corp officers, prosecutors and district attorneys, will become this country’s next generation of plaintiff personal injury lawyers.

1. Criminal lawyers are comfortable using the adversarial process, to help get cases resolved.

They are comfortable with the risk reward calculus that must be weighed prior to a jury trial.

2. Civil depositions are easy for criminal lawyers.

Because of their trial experience, these lawyers are already skilled witness examiners.

3. Criminal defense lawyers are skilled cross-examiners.

You won’t have to relearn this skill if you convert from a criminal lawyer to a plaintiff personal injury lawyer.  The same concepts that make a good cross-examination apply on the civil side; except it’s easier,   because you now have depositions available for impeachment.

 4. Criminal lawyers already know evidence law.

The rules of evidence don’t change on the civil side.  They may relax a bit- that’s about it.  Criminal lawyers already know the hearsay rule and all the exceptions.  These lawyers already know how to lay foundations for the introduction and admission of documents and photographs.

5. Criminal lawyers are familiar with various Judge types.

Some are crabby and some are nice, but whichever type of judge they get, they already know how to deal with them.

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6. Criminal defense lawyers and public defenders feel comfortable working on cases where, initially, it appears the odds of winning are not favorable.

They already know it takes hours of creative thinking and learning, to discover a true defense for a criminal defendant.  This same skill can be put to use in challenging catastrophic personal injury cases, where the responsible party may not be apparent when the case first presents itself to the lawyer.

7. Criminal defense lawyers are not quick to judge others.

Criminal defense lawyers and plaintiff personal injury lawyers both represent people.  Criminal defense lawyers grow to understand that most people are valuable, lovable and credible in their own unique way.  Criminal defense lawyers understand how to discover the value and beauty in each and every person they represent.

8. Criminal lawyers have developed perspective.

They know that cases are not black and white.  They have a good understanding that, no matter how clear something appears initially, things may not be so clear at the end of the presentation of the evidence.

9. Trial Continuances:

There is a bit of difference here.  Criminal defense lawyers are commonly granted trial date continuances. Beware: that’s not the case on the civil  side.  Judges use the pressure of the trial date to get cases to settle.  It means that, if you do not file a timely motion to continue your trial date, with the proper amount of just cause, watch out: a civil trial judge may not grant the continuance.

10. Courage.

Trial work is not for the timid.  Lawyers working on the criminal side have already faced their fears and learned how to march forward.  This skill is just as valuable when standing up for the rights of an injured individual. 

If you are a criminal defense lawyer or a prosecutor who is interested in learning more about what it takes to go out on your own as a plaintiff personal injury law, check out Sign Up To Settlement, A  Personal Injury Boot Camp. Here’s the link: signuptosettlement.com/bootcamp.


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In his 20 years of law practice, Al has handled more than 40 jury trials. This experience, combined with a commitment to ethics and integrity, has earned Al an excellent reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area legal community. He is the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell‘s “AV” peer rating, which signifies preeminent legal ability and ethical standards, and has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2006. In 2009, Al was awarded the prestigious 2009 Civil Justice Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, given to attorneys who show integrity, grit, tenacity, ethics, and great advocacy skills, and who contribute to the betterment of consumers and/or injured victims and their families.

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