This is the first of a series of blogs on Developing and Funding a Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Practice.
Starting a plaintiff’s personal injury practice from the ground up is not an easy thing to accomplish for a number of reasons. First, there is a considerable amount of competition amongst the plaintiff’s personal injury bar. Attracting potential new clients to the firm is a challenge for all lawyers including ones who have been in the practice for many years and who have a number of established relationships. You will need a clear and focused marketing strategy if you intend to build a successful personal injury practice.
Second, most people who practice plaintiff personal injury have a large component of their cases in the area of motor vehicle litigation. The majority of serious personal injuries take place in the automobile. As most of you will know, Ontario has a unique set of no-fault rules and these rules change periodically. The practice is very paper intensive and you will need to develop various systems for document gathering and file development for your practice to flourish.
Third, you will need to develop a strategy for dealing with the significant financial demands of establishing your practice. Since nearly all plaintiff personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, you essentially have no choice but to do the same. This means that you will have to be prepared to wait to be paid for your services until the conclusion of a case while at the same time dedicating the resources necessary by way of time and disbursements to develop your files appropriately.
Lastly, once your firm begins to enjoy some success, you will inevitably begin to suffer growing pains as you try to attract and retain your firms most important assets; its people.
Marketing Your Practice
Standing out from the crowd is one of the most significant challenges you will face when trying to establish your personal injury practice. Marketing your practice will not happen overnight, but it can be accomplished if you develop a plan and remember to dedicate a certain number of hours to executing that plan each and every week (even when you start to get busy). It is easy to begin to feel overwhelmed with the work that you have now, but you always have to consider what is going to happen two or three years down the road if you are not opening at least as many files as you are closing.
Like most people, I religiously tracked (and continue to track) where each and every client got my name. I soon realized that all of my business came from one of four sources: