Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why become a personal injury lawyer?


In America, the ambulance chasing personal injury lawyer is a staple of press vilification and TV caricature. Here the portrayal isn’t quite as negative and all-pervasive, but we personal injury lawyers are sometimes tarred with the same brush as our transatlantic brethren. The media likes to depict us as ruthless and aggressive, a breed of lawyer who, if at the scene of an accident, only sees pound signs flashing. Why, then, become a PI lawyer?

There are plenty of reasons. The first is that the stereotype is wrong. Granted, some PI lawyers are unscrupulous and money-minded, just as the same can be said about some doctors, or accountants, or architects, or anyone in any of the professional services. But most of us enter this sector of the law because we’re motivated by a number of things that have nothing to do with money. Here are a few:
  • PI lawyers are passionate about justice. We see people who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own, and we want to help them obtain redress. No wonder that PI law is a branch of tort law, and that the word ‘tort’ is French for ‘wrong’: we’re in the business of trying to right wrongs.
  • People are what PI lawyers are about. We’re naturally curious, gregarious types. We like meeting people. We care for them. That’s why we like acting for the individual rather than corporate entities. For us, there is a huge amount of satisfaction to be had from seeing a client’s case through either to victory in court or a satisfactory settlement.
  • A motivation for a great many PI lawyers is that they will spend their working lives immersed in the fabric of life, not buried in documents – as is the case for lawyers in other areas of the law. If you work as a PI law you won’t spend all your time swamped by paperwork.
  • But so too is PI law challenging. If you enter this area of legal work, you will never be bored. There are cutting edge developments all the time and you won’t lack for intellectual stimuli. 
  • Because PI law is so enmeshed in daily life, you learn something new every day. What you learn can be applied to your own life. It will make you more aware of your rights and responsibilities, and better able to make informed choices and decisions. 
  • Perhaps more than any other sector of law, PI law is about communication. It’s about argument, too – for example, your client’s claim will be opposed by insurers. Working in PI law therefore means that you’re always on your toes as a communicator and an advocate. These are transferable skills that you can apply across the board in your life. 
  • Above all else, PI law is about passion – passion for justice, for helping people, for doing the right thing; passion for its unique mix of law and practicality and for the chance to make a difference.

If the above resonates, you might be just right for PI law. And if so, ignore the ambulance chasing tag. It’s a tired old cliché. The truth is that duty comes before profit. This should be the motivation for every lawyer, not just those of us working in PI.