Disparities in Civil Representation Favor Civil Defendants
An article came out in the Stanford Law Review recently which found that judges do in fact judge the quality of representation. Who do you think it favors? The parties of power of course. I don't mean political parties, but rather the corporations on the civil side and the prosecutors on the criminal side.
Disparities in civil cases.
The civil areas where federal trial judges saw the greatest disparity were civil rights and personal injury/malpractice. When there was a disparity, the defendant had better representation. State judges saw the greatest disparities in family law and personal injury/malpractice. Again, when there was a disparity in the tort cases, it was generally the defense that had the advantage.
Judges said that intellectual property and commercial litigation cases seldom had a great disparity between the sides' lawyers. These lawyers were rated between "good" and "excellent" -- i.e., at the top of the scale.
HT to Trial Ad for the pointer.
Now, this says a couple things to me:
1) We have GOT to do a better job of prepping out cases. Just like big firms, we have a huge workload. But in our big cases, we need to take the time to prepare just as hard as they do, just as many hours logged into the specific case, not just the overall caseload. I see far too often, attorneys on the defensive in times where they should have been on the offensive. I realize there are pragmatics as to income flow, but if we worked our good cases just as much as they did, we'd be much better set for defeating a summary judgment and much better set for trial. I saw Bob Dawson at trial recently, and remember just being flabberghasted at how well prepared he was. I make every effort on even my small trials to be set for any possible contingency, but I never know my cases as well as I'd like, I never know the medical records as well as I'd like, I never have as much time or thought into my crosses and direct as I'd like, etc., etc. I really think a lot of that has to do with always wanting to be better. But the fact of the matter is, if they can legitimately bill it, they will, and spend much more time on the case than we can (at least in the larger cases...we all know they often fall short in the smaller cases).
2) Their is NO need for tort reform, we already have an uphill battle. Frivolous claims will be dismissed outright. Many non-frivolous claims will be dismissed due to the inequities involved.