Thursday, August 16, 2012

Watch Out For The Lawyers

The look of disgust.

Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with it. I see it in people's faces every time I tell them I work in personal injury law. If someone asks me what I do and then looks genuinely impressed when I tell them, I lighten the mood by quickly replying, "Yup. Ambulance chaser. It's on my business card."

BUT when I tell people what I do and they look at me with distaste and say, "Oh. You're an ambulance chaser," it's all I can do to keep from lecturing about the ills of tort reform. Besides, only *I* can call myself an ambulance chaser!...Everyone loves to hate a personal injury lawyer. Until they need one.

You want to know the real reason I am so familiar with that look of disgust? Because I used to see it. In the mirror. On my face. Everday. I used to be an insurance defense lawyer. And I used to despise people like me. When I worked on the defense side, lawsuits would come across my desk and I'd read the claims with much humor. REALLY? You have chronic and permanent injury from a fender bender? I'd rip apart medical bills (you know, with my vast understanding of medicine) and automatically, without leaving even a little room for the benefit of the doubt, label all plaintiffs as malignerers.

But I learned something in my short year of working in a personal injury firm. Personal injury law is really about helping people. People who are overwhelmed by their injuries, their paperwork, their car repairs, their medical bills. Personal injury law is about helping clients (pardon the metaphor) to not get run over by insurance companies or overwhelmed by the "process."

I think my favorite part of my job is getting a call from a client who is overwhelmed. I don't like that they are overwhelmed but I love having the opportunity to explain things to them and provide a little bit of comfort and insight. "Don't worry," I get to say. "We will handle that." Then I feel a teeny bit like Superman. But instead of a cape, I have a $100K+ piece of paper. Instead of a theme song, I get dirty looks. Instead of flying or using my x-ray vision to see through John Hamm's clothes, I get to write 15 page demand letters. (close right?)

Today, I was sitting in the dentist chair and making small talk with the assistant/hygenist/helper lady as she waited for my mouth to go numb. She asked me what area of law I worked in. I think she was expecting me to say something grand and romantic, like civil rights or securities. I told her I worked in personal injury. And.....There is was. The look of disgust.

"Oh. Like those people on TV with the ads. The.... ambulance chasers." She replied.

As soon as she said that, I shot up straight in my dental chair. "You know, some people get seriously injured in automobile accidents." I began. "Without a lawyer, insurance companies won't take them seriously." I continued. "Even if their insured is at-fault, many insurance companies won't make a real settlement offer until you take them to court."

She just looked at me blankly. Then she said, "You're the reason my insurance rates are going up."

I was trying so hard to quell the flames threatening to shoot out of my eyeballs and ears.

" inshuransh companeeesh are la reeeel reashun your..." oops. My mouth was starting to go numb.

I looked at her again and just soaked up the disgust radiating from her face. Forget it; lost cause....So, I zipped my mouth, sat back in my chair, and tried to fall asleep to the sound of drilling.

Next time, I'm just going to say I'm a trial lawyer.

Right before my dentist appointment/nap.
All I need is a margarita. And a beach

P.S. Since I'm the cause of your insurance rates going up, want to see where your insurance payments go? They go to things new favorite dress! I bought this when I was pregnant. So happy it fits. Thank you dental hygenist for paying your ever increasing insurance rates. You're keeping me well-clothed. (I'm being sarastic in case you didn't pick up on that)

Love this dress from Boden. LOVE!
It was even 1/3 of it's original price!


  1. lol. I'm still in law school and am already getting the looks of disgust from my friends/acquaintances. sigh.

  2. That body. OMG are you seriously the mother of two? I can only hope to look half as good after this. And I love the dress! Don't worry, my drug education constable in grade 6 told us all lawyers were all liars. As the child of a lawyer that burned. Still does, but I realize now it is just a sign of ignorance...

  3. The most cruel, selfish, smarmy, ineffective, yes-mannish, and sexually-harassing manager I ever worked with looked at me when I said I was quitting and going to law school and he said: "Sleazy lawyer, eh? I thought you had class, now I guess I have to pretend not to know you." It was all I could do not to judo chop his Adam's apple.

    Also - does anyone else hear Madeline Kahn saying "Flames! Flames! Shooting out of my face!"

  4. LOVE this post. It's so true that people love to hate us "ambulance chasers" until they need one. Why do the lawyers who try to prevent insurance companies from having to compensate seriously injured people never get the look of disgust? Unfortunately, I think the only way those people could understand is if they were injured in an accident. It's not so easy to get that settlement check on your own.

  5. I love Boden! Great dress! Wish they would open a store in the US...a block from where I live would be ideal...for my closet, but not the wallet.

  6. I like what you said that personal injury law is about helping people. People are usually confused with the processing of their personal injury claims, and sometimes, they do get overwhelmed by the big insurance companies that do not want to cover their medical expenses. I think it’s great that you’ve come to that realization, even though your initial attitude towards them and the practice was a bit negative.