You may not realize it but there many clients who are desperately searching for an attorney to help them solve their legal problem. They often do not know a lawyer and have never been in a situation where they need to find a medical malpractice lawyer a wrongful death attorney or personal injury lawyer.

Likewise, they don't know someone who can refer them to a trusted and respected lawyer. At that point, they will typically go online to begin their search to find out which lawyer is right for them.


Whenever we have a legal problem, we tend to focus on how to solve that problem and who can best help us. We often overlook the fact that when we call an attorney to answer our questions, we typically do not concern ourselves with how the attorney evaluates our possible case and how they look at us to see whether we are the right client for them. 


This article gives you a little insight into what an experienced New York medical malpractice and personal injury trial lawyer looks for when deciding whether or not to allow you, the potential client, to become part of our firm and join us for the next 2-3 years as your litigation matter proceeds through the court system. 


The very first time you interact with my office will be either by phone or e-mail. That interaction tells me a great deal. There have been some instances where a potential new client will call the office and be extremely demanding. They naturally begin to tell their story of woe to my secretary. They may get offended if my secretary stops them when she reminds them that she is not an attorney and simply needs to schedule a phone conference with me.


We've had instances where the caller demanded to speak to me immediately. We have a very simple process in effect our office. If you immediately reveal that you choose not to follow our system of how we handle new calls and potential new cases, then I know immediately that you will not be the right type of client for my law firm. 


When you call or e-mail my office to find out if you have a valid case, here is the simple procedure that we use:

My secretary will gladly take your contact information and set up a convenient phone conference with you and me. 

This way we don't have to play telephone tag where you may be unavailable or I am unavailable. Also, there are specific segments of days during the week that I set aside only to speak to new prospective clients. At other times I'm working on existing client matters and do not take inbound telephone calls during those times.


If there is a day or two between when you call my office and when our scheduled call is, you will be given the opportunity to read any one of my educational books that explain how lawsuits work here in the state of New York. It gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with a lot of great information before you ever get on the phone with me to ask your questions.

In addition, my secretary will also determine who referred you to my office and how you learned about my law firm. If you've not seen or watched my educational videos (I have over 2300 videos) she will explain where you can view the great educational content that once again helps you understand how cases work in the state of New York. 


At your scheduled appointment time I contact you by phone to get some more detailed information about your concerns and the type of case you may have. This is simply a basic screening call that lasts no more than 5-10 minutes. Many callers believe it is the opportunity to explain everything that happened in their matter. Actually, it's not.

During this important call I need to know answers to these questions:

  1. When did this happen?
  2. Where did this happen?
  3. What injuries do you have because of what happened?
  4. (In a medical malpractice case) Has any doctor confirmed your belief that something was done wrong?

From those questions I can always ask follow-up questions that delve a little deeper into the events that occurred to you.


There are some potential clients who still feel the need to start telling me everything that happened to them in the smallest detail. For those individuals, I must repeatedly stop them and remind them that this is only a brief screening call. If you have met my specific criteria on the call, I will invite you into my office to spend a considerable period of time explaining all the details of what happened to you.


There are many reasons why I would choose not to accept your potential case. If I am unable to help you, I will immediately tell you on the phone that this is not the right type of case for me. Please note that I'm not passing any judgment on the merits of your case. Remember, not every case is right for every attorney.


In my law firm, I am highly selective about the cases I choose to accept. There are other lawyers and law firms that are not as selective. 

While on the telephone with me, it is often more helpful to listen and answer the specific questions I need to know in order to help you as quickly as possible and make a decision about what to do next. Potential clients who consistently feel the need to talk over me and to tell me all the details of their matter are usually not the ideal type of client for me.

For those select individuals who I invite into my office to have an initial detailed consultation, we now begin the learning process of what happened to you. During this office meeting I will spend approximately one hour with you obtaining as much detail as possible. This meeting is your chance to talk and explain everything to me, and I gladly give you that opportunity so I can learn exactly what happened and why.


However, keep in mind that this is just the beginning of the investigation phase that will help me determine whether or not your case is the right one for my law firm.

Here's what I look for when you walk into my office:

  1. How do you dress?
  2. How do you present yourself?
  3. Were you on time?
  4. Do you have a good memory of events?
  5. Have you followed basic instructions my secretary gave to you about items you needed to bring with you to your first office visit?
  6. Are you angry? Are you mad? Are you upset?
  7. Have you had any past experience dealing with lawsuits or lawyers?
  8. Are you demanding?
  9. Do you believe you know the legal process better than an experienced trial lawyer?
  10. Do you want things done your way only or are you open-minded and willing to accept the advice of an experienced trial attorney?
  11. What type of witness will you make at the time of trial?
  12. Does what you are telling me give me an immediate sense of injustice about what happened to you?
  13. What gut reaction do I get when you tell me what happened to you and the injuries you suffered?

All of these factors help evaluate whether or not I think you are the ideal client for me and my law firm.

There are some instances where I will make an immediate decision that you are not the right type of client for me. In that instance, I will tell you what your alternatives are and thank you for coming in to speak to me.

If I undertake to perform a detailed and thorough investigation on your matter, there is still the possibility that I will not accept your matter based on the merits of the case.


Here's the bottom line of what an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury trial lawyer looks for in New York when deciding whether or not to take you on as a new client:

I want to make sure that you are not demanding. I want to know that you are respectful of me and my office staff. I want to know that you are willing to keep an open mind and accept and listen to my advice. I will not be told, under any circumstances, what I can and cannot do to best represent you in your lawsuit. I will always listen to your questions and concerns and give you my best legal advice. However, the moment a potential new client begins to tell me what I should and should not be doing because they know better and have more knowledge and information, then I will gladly shake your hand and thank you for contacting me but politely tell you that we are just not the right fit, and that's okay.

Remember, not every case is right for every attorney. When you come into my office not only do you make the decision about whether to hire me, but likewise I make the decision about whether to allow you to hire me. That's a concept most potential new callers do not understand.


When you come into my office seeking my legal assistance, it is almost as if you are applying for a job. The reality is that you and I will be spending 2-3 years together on this litigation journey. If I know at the outset that our relationship will be a rocky one, I will thank you for calling but tell you that you're probably better finding other counsel.


This article simply provides you with a little insight into what an experienced trial attorney looks for when you pick up the phone to call to ask whether or not you have a valid and meritorious case. 

To learn even more about why I won't take your case if you're demanding or obnoxious, I invite you to watch the video below...

Gerry Oginski
Connect with me
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer