All California lawyers licensed to practice law have gone to law school and passed the California Bar Exam, which is a multi-day, grueling test that has, in good years, only a 50% passing rate. All California lawyers have taken law school classes covering a wide range of topics, and most lawyers specialize in a specific area of law—whether criminal, family, personal injury, or transactional law, to name a few.
An individual or company with a legal question, that needs a lawyer, usually has already located a lawyer or law firm that appears to specialize in the area of practice needed. The individual or company has located this lawyer or law firm through a referral, advertising, a trade organization or some other reference.
Why then, does the experience level of that lawyer, or law firm, make a difference? Doesn’t every lawyer that specializes in an area of law basically share the same skills, the same experience and the same general level of competence?
There is an enormous difference in the skills of a more experienced lawyer. Of course, less-experienced lawyers may desire to represent their clients as passionately as any other lawyer, with all the ability they may muster. The more experienced lawyer simply knows more of what to do. The more experienced lawyer has a better sense of the significance of evidence. The more experienced lawyer has a broader perspective of understanding of what needs to be done to best advocate a client’s interests, whether seeking to promote a claim or defend against one. The more experienced lawyer knows what avenues to explore, what evidence to seek, what experts to hire, what documents are needed, what causes of action to plead and which to attack, what motions to file and, most importantly, what tactics to develop to advance the case towards a resolution that best supports the client’s interest.
The experienced lawyer should have trial experience in the area of law that the client needs. The experience of trying cases with similar facts or legal issues grants the lawyer superior foresight into the case’s value, merit and worth. Trial experience also provides the experienced lawyer with greater know-how regarding how to best advocate, or defend, the case throughout the life of the litigation.
When you are contemplating retaining a lawyer or law firm, be sure in inquire not only about their experience in the area of law that you are involved with, but ask how far that lawyer has taken such a case—have they tried cases with your issues? How many and how long ago? What results have they obtained on similar cases? Have they ever defended those results before the Court of Appeal?
Retaining a lawyer or law firm with the greatest experience level for your issues goes a long way to ensuring you get the best result possible.