Buy This Book and Become an Expert Ambulance Chaser. Or Not.

Namby Pamby Columns, Lawyer, The Namby Pamby 5 Comments

This is not a paid advertisement. This is just me ranting about attorneys masquerading as experts.

As a member of a state bar, two federal bars and three bar associations it is unsurprising that my contact information lands in the hands of many different people that want my time and money. Every day at the office, I receive solicitations for CLE classes in exotic locations (i.e., Rockford, Illinois), staffing services that want me to hire their paralegals (hello … I’m an associate) and publishers that are trying to get me to buy their ungodly expensive handbooks on how better to do my job.

Every publishing company that I first met in law school sends flyers on a near-daily basis peddling their latest and greatest publications. Since I litigate, the books pushed on me are ones that deal with trial work: Guide to Medical Malpractice, Deposing Experts, and Everybody Poops just to name a few. To encourage sales, occasionally these publishing houses will send portions of the books to entice you to buy. After skimming the email, I start to wonder how these ‘expert authors’ signed a publishing contract.

The most recent of these arrived in my email inbox proving me 22 free ‘tips’ on how to chase the ambulance on personal injury law from a new, imaginatively-titled book, the Personal Injury Handbook. After reading this email, I believe If I were to adopt some of these tips, I would likely be explaining myself to the client, my malpractice insurer and potentially the state bar disciplinary committee. Here’s the first tip that they give:

Never send a representation letter to anyone, ever … even in a small case, try if possible to always file suit …

Really? You have a client walk in the door, you sign them up and by the end of business the recommendation you are leading with is to file suit? Oh boy. I love the idea of filing a lawsuit as quickly as possible and incurring thousands in expenses when they aren’t needed. The client will love that explanation when she asks why one-third of the settlement is going to the attorneys fees, one-third of the settlement is going to attorneys costs and the final third is going to pay her medical bills.

Advice like this is why there are calls for tort reform.

And why the terrorists hate us.

Not to mention all other attorneys that know what they are doing.

There are more tidbits provided to the plaintiff’s practitioner that even a law student wouldn’t think is appropriate for an attorney to follow. These gems include:

Every interrogatory answer…must be clear, truthful and complete.

In other news, water is wet.

All witnesses are nervous at a deposition.

Doesn’t everyone find being waterboarded grilled under oath in a strange place about intimate personal details to be a relaxing affair? Maybe I do need to buy this book.

Investigate the client’s medical records before the defense does

Since this was the sixth free tip listed, I am going to infer that I should do this after I have filed suit. (I’ll let those who know more about ethics and professional responsibility discuss the viability of this tip.)

My favorite tip was the last freebie:

The Plaintiff should be prepared with a more or less rehearsed truthful version of the accident

When I see someone give a rehearsed account of something, my bullshit-o-meter begins to peg at full. Especially if it is a plaintiff.

These are the latest tips on how to be a trial attorney. With advice like this, who needs law school?

If I ever get to the point in my career when I determine that I am, in fact, an “xpuhrt,” I will write a book on how to be a lawyer. I don’t have much written at the moment but I assure you it will cover the things that really matter like “How to get away with swearing at your clients” and “The Malpractice Avoidance Tango.” When this book goes to press, there won’t be any free advice advertising it.

I’ll just send a tweet that tells you to buy my awesome effing book.


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  • Ellen

    The manageing partner told me that pretty soon, I am GOING to have to get my own CLIENTS. He likes what I DO watching him, and now I have to become a ranemaker.

    Have you done any CLE’s on how to become a ranemaker? I need to know about this and would like to take a CLE on this.

  • Mean Partner

    If you’ve been told you are “going to have to ” get your own clients, you are past the stage where you will simply work for other people’s clients. Its “eat what you kill” time. Better move fast. I suggest focusing on small to medium size clients with an in house staff of underappreciated male lawyers who will throw some work to lawyers willing to buy dinners. Proficiency in use of the spell check and a a moderately low cut blouse will help.

  • Strenuous Objector

    Maybe the author of the book has a different definition of the “truth” than I do, because when I tell clients to tell the truth, what I mean is to treat it like a resume and just embellish a little. Experts are never what they seem. Hell, most of these authors you get samples from are probably professors with no real experience.

  • Todd

    This reminds me of an episode of The Office where Andy Bernard, who is admittedly the worst salesperson in the office, decides to put together his own motivational seminar. Anyone can be a star nowadays by emphasizing form over substance. The primary purpose of publishing the book was probably to set it in his reception area.

  • Alan T.

    I like the “more or less rehearsed” advice. So lawyerly, with plenty of wiggle room to interpret what it means.