Ok, I Understand that I May Make Money that Equates to a Very High Hourly Rate by Referring the Case Out. But the Simple Fact of the Matter is that I Like to Take the Occasional Personal Injury Case.
Then feel free to do so. The ethics rules do not prohibit any lawyer from undertaking representation in any type of case, so long as he or she can do so competently, i.e. that you bring the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. Likewise, the rules make it clear that you can practice in a field of law you are otherwise unfamiliar with so long as you are willing to do the preparation necessary to provide competent representation to your client.
It makes no difference if your usual practice is criminal defense, family law, or business law; if you keep up with the substantive law of torts and subrogation, as well as the law of civil procedure and evidence as it applies to tort cases, you can accept the occasional tort case, assuming you also have the time and financial resources to properly prepare it. If, on the other hand, you have found yourself unable to maintain your usual practice and stay up-to-date on tort law and its related practice areas, you must be willing and able to take the time to learn the law necessary for a personal injury or wrongful death representation.
Whether you should undertake representation in such a case is question only you can answer. Our conversations with lawyers across the state, however, lead us to conclude that more and more lawyers are concerned about the consequences and economics of practicing outside their regular practice area. For better or worse, the law has become more and more complex, and the nuances of practicing in any legal field cannot be mastered simply by reading case law or the typical practice guides. While most lawyers are gifted with the drive and the intellect to practice law in any specialized field, the fact of the matter is that every field of law – from admiralty to zoning – has a learning curve, and the pressure to cover overhead and make a living while still having time for one’s family makes it hard to practice outside of one’s regular practice area.
So there is no problem whatsoever with you accepting representation in a tort case, even if it is outside your normal practice area, so long as you can undertake the tort representation with the same commitment to serve your personal injury client as you do your other clients. If, however, you are asked to undertake representation in a case that stretches your comfort level from a time, financial or experience standpoint, we hope that you ask us to work with you to best help your client.
If you would like to discuss referring a case in more detail, please give John Day a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866.812.8787 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to responding to referral inquires promptly. If John is in depositions, trial or otherwise unavailable, our Referral Specialist will, according to your preference, schedule a time for you to talk to John or connect you with one of our other lawyers who will be able to help you immediately.