The court system is just one aspect of our larger legal sphere. Lawyers can specialize in all sorts of things, and in many cases that can mean working almost entirely outside of a courtroom. Lawyers may advise businessmen and women, help write contracts, and, of course, negotiate settlements like the ones your friend’s mother seems to specialize in.
But being a lawyer is rarely as cool and dramatic as TV shows like Law and Order make it out to be. You might be surprised to learn that some types of lawyers are virtually never in court–in fact some, like personal injury lawyers, may pass cases that have to go to trial to a different lawyer. Personal injury lawsuits can end up in court, of course, but it’s actually very rare that they do so. Less than 5% make it that far, with the rest being settled beforehand. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One reason is risk. If you’re suing because you desperately need help with your medical bills, you may not be able to afford to lose the case. However, you might lose the case, of course, if you go to court–so perhaps you’re willing to accept a smaller sum as a sure thing rather than take a shot at getting a larger one. The reverse is true, too: if you’re the defendant, you might rather pay a smaller amount than risk having to pay the full amount if you lose in court.
Another big reason is cost. Going to court is pricey! In most cases, you’ll have to pay your attorney, whether you win or lose. Even if you get a great award, attorney fees will eat into that quickly. It may not be worth a plaintiff taking a shot at a larger award, because the increase in the amount is offset by attorneys’ fees. For a defendant, the thrill of winning in court is dampened by the fact that there is still money to be paid out–to the lawyers!
Part of why the cost goes up, of course, is the fact that going to court can make the whole legal process drag on. Time is money, especially when your lawyer charges by the hour. Lengthening the process may also be a stressful and upsetting thing for the non-professionals involved.
Because of this, personal injury lawyers need to be skilled negotiators with experience in settlements, say attorneys at Preszler Law. If a firm is large enough, there may be someone else who has focused more of their career on courtroom skills–meaning that it would make sense to hand off those responsibilities.
In short, it’s completely normal for lawyers in some specialties to settle the overwhelming majority of their cases. Settlements eliminate the risks and temper the costs of a lawsuit, and they put an end to what could be a long and stressful process.