An attorney’s obligation to his clients is to provide competent legal advice. No attorney can provide legal advice without researching the applicable law. It doesn’t matter whether your lawyer has spent 20 years practicing the law applicable to your legal issue or if it is a novel legal problem never addressed by the courts. The law is always changing. The evolution of case precedents requires attorneys to stay up to date and continually research legal decisions issued by courts with jurisdiction over your legal issues.
Most clients come to us and assume that we can provide them with a concrete, unassailable “answer” to a legal issue just because we practice in the area that encompasses the clients’ legal problem. This simply isn’t true. As personal injury litigators who handle a lot of car accident cases, we have had many legal and factual issues presented to us by prospective clients. We ALWAYS review the applicable law to ensure that the advice we provide is based upon current legal precedent. It is not simply a matter of proving a rear end collision caused our client’s injury and subsequent harm and damages. There is a “twist” in every case because the facts of every case are different. The difference in facts presented by our clients sometimes results in different outcomes based upon how the law is applied to the facts and circumstances of each case.
The law of negligence is as complex as the law governing construction arbitration. For example in the law of negligence, some clients have good liability cases but terrible proof of damages, or have excellent proof of damages but questionable liability. Insurance companies that defend their insureds against car accident claims only have a duty to pay claims that their insured are legally responsible for causing. Sometimes there are different results in cases despite the clients’ personal wishes because the applicable law requires a specific outcome. We have been involved in cases where our client has been convinced that he is going to recover thousands of dollars from an insurance company because the “accident was clearly caused by the defendant” and we have had to douse that belief because of some applicable legal precedent. An attorney’s job includes educating his clients about how the law doesn’t always agree with the client’s “gut instinct.” It is difficult sometimes but this challenge is why disputes sometimes get litigated all the way to a jury verdict rather than get compromised.
Evidentiary issues, applicable procedural and substantive law, special defenses, or sovereign immunity can all help or hinder a client’s legal issue. An attorney who does not undertake the requisite legal research to assist him with his analysis and professional opinion about a legal problem is not complying with his duties to his clients and his profession. There is no worse feeling than being surprised with a legal precedent, usually from an adversary who did the research that you should have done at the beginning of the representation of the client, that turns your client’s case upside down after spending a lot of time and resources litigating the dispute. Not only does it hurt the attorney’s reputation, but even more tragic is that it could hurt the client’s case.
The attorneys at Sullivan Heiser, LLC believe in the mantra of leaving no law unresearched and have fostered a reputation for providing solid, well-researched legal advice to our clients. We provide flexible payment arrangements as alternatives to the “billable hour” and strive to create mutually beneficial relationships with our clients. We want our clients to consider us a resource for solving problems with excellence and integrity.