Top Ten Characteristics of Plaintiff Personal Injury Trial Lawyers


Good plaintiff’s lawyers come in all different shapes, sizes, personalities, and work styles.  Here are a few common characteristics of some of the best plaintiff lawyers in America.

1.  We have empathy for the human condition.

Representing injured people requires the ability to listen, understand and relate to another person’s problems.  Injured people are going through an unanticipated challenge in their life.  The story of this challenge, its ups and downs, twists and turns, victories and defeats is a story great plaintiff lawyers enjoy listening to and sharing with others.

2.  We are open minded.

We represent all different types of individuals.  Some of these people will have a background we are familiar with.  Others are very, very different.  Good plaintiff lawyers have a keen understanding of what it takes to get to know and appreciate people who are unique and different.  They allow themselves the time it takes to learn what makes each and everyone of their clients beautiful, lovable, and enjoyable to be around.

3.  We have developed a skilled use of the creative mind to overcome problems that seem insurmountable.

Often problems with cases are imagined.  It is important to learn how to let go of a particular viewpoint, search for and discover facts that you may never have thought to look for.  Great lawyers are great investigators.

4.  We have an entrepreneurial spirit.

There are a small percentage of jobs with big plaintiff law firms that allow for a lawyer to focus entirely on case work.  The vast majority of plaintiff personal injury lawyers are self employed business owners.  That means we need to have the interest and capacity to do what it takes to build a business, create a business plan and have the passion to stick with it through our victories and defeats.

5.  We enjoy being around people who are different from us.

A plaintiff’s trial practice overflows with different characters, people, clients, witnesses, claims adjusters, defense lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, settlement judges, trial judges, court clerks and jurors.  Being able to work with different types of people is essential to our success.

6.  We are comfortable talking in front of groups of people.

Cases are presented to defense lawyers, arbitrators, mediators, judges and juries.  Any plaintiff lawyer must feel comfortable taking center stage, standing up, and advocating on behalf of their client.

7.  We have a comfort level working on cases, even when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Even very good cases take time to develop and settle.  We have an understanding that taking one step forward every day eventually leads to  accomplishing something great.

8.  We have a necessary confidence in our ability to overcome the defense lawyer mantra that we really don’t have a case.

The most rewarding work of a plaintiff lawyer is to develop a case from nothing into something that is very compelling.  To be able to do this type of work, we have learned how to endure the periods of time, in the beginning, when the defense lawyer reminds you that you have no case.

9.  We have confidence in our ability to overcome a mediator or settlement judge’s mantra that we really should settle the case.

In the days before a jury trial the pressure to settle can become extreme.  Sometimes this pressure is justified, other times it is not.  Great plaintiff lawyers have a skilled sense of the right cases to push through to a jury verdict.

10.  We have a high capacity to work very hard for sustained periods of time.

Litigation is an area of law where the amount of work necessary to accomplish something good can seem infinite.  We have the capacity to work extremely hard, while also taking care of ourselves, so that we don’t burn out before our greatest work is done.

These are the characteristics that great plaintiff personal injury trial lawyers have.  There is no one perfect plaintiff lawyer.  We are all different.  You may say to yourself, I don’t have any of these qualities.  Years from now you will look back and realize you did. Go for it!


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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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  • greg smith

    You forgot the #1 thing…. An excellent NALA certified paralegal!