In the world of personal injury law, there are many different approaches attorneys can take on behalf of their clients. While some attorneys prefer an aggressive approach that will often see them fighting in court for their clients' best interests, many others prefer to focus on negotiating settlements with defendants on behalf of their clients. For those considering practicing personal injury law or changing the course of their current law practice, choosing the right approach can help define both their legal practice and what potential clients should expect from them. One decision that many personal injury attorneys will have to make is whether to focus on a collaborative approach or a so-called "clearinghouse" approach.
Collaboration vs. Clearinghouse in personal injury law
Taking a collaborative approach to personal injury law means that attorneys working on a particular case combine their various talents and expertise. Instead of having just one attorney represent him or her, a personal injury plaintiff who hires a collaborative personal injury firm will typically have two or more attorneys on the case. For clients there are major benefits to this approach. By having a team on their side, for example, the plaintiff can be assured that their case is being approached from all possible angles and that possible arguments that may be made by a defendant or insurance company are addressed early on. One possible downside of a collaborative approach, however, is that it can be expensive for plaintiffs since they are essentially paying for the services of multiple attorneys. As such, collaboration works best in especially complex cases and cases that are expected to go to trial.
The "clearinghouse" approach to personal injury law is an informal term used to describe firms that often offer quick settlements to potential plaintiffs. These are the firms that typically grace billboards and late night TV ads. Rather than focus on taking a personal injury claim to trial, most clearinghouse firms strive to settle a case as quickly as possible. There are benefits to this approach both for attorneys and clients. Avoiding the headache of going to trial can save all involved parties both time and money and the fact that cases are being settled quickly means that clearinghouse firms can typically take on a large volume of cases. On the downside, however, clients may end up with a settlement that is smaller than they expected or than what they might have gotten had they pursued litigation. Plaintiffs will also typically work with just one attorney and that plaintiff may feel that his or her case is just one among many that the attorney is taking on.
For those preparing for a career in personal injury law or for current attorneys who are looking for a change, both the collaborative and clearinghouse approaches offer their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing which path is the right one depends on one's unique situation, including the types of cases one wants to pursue and the reputation one would like to build among both peers and clients.