An acquaintance told me recently that he hired a particular attorney because he heard the attorney was an "SOB." That struck me as a rather odd requirement and got me to thinking, why would you want an SOB for an attorney?
If you were hiring a plumber would you want him to be an SOB?
If you were hiring an accountant would you want him to be an SOB?
Would you want an SOB for a son-in-law or a spouse? How about for a doctor?
What is an SOB? I picture someone who is rude, undependable, dishonest, and generally unlikeable. Why would you look for this in someone who is going to handle your money and act as your agent?
I think this is something we can rightfully blame on TV. We see rude, unethical, attorneys on TV who get great results for their clients. They are disrespectful to the judge and the opposing attorneys. Despite this, they always win and the client loves them. However, this is not the reality.
I think it is important to understand what attorneys do for their clients, particularly in a medical malpractice case. At the end of the day, almost all medical malpractice cases are settled before going to trial. Prior to that, your attorney must work closely with the attorney representing the doctor or hospital. They must work together to obtain all the medical records, to take depositions of all the witnesses, to schedule hearings, and to generally get the case ready for trial. If this process is done by someone who is rude, dishonest, undependable and unlikeable, it is likely to be longer, more expensive, and less productive. Why would the opposing attorney want to cooperate with your SOB lawyer? If your lawyer acts like an SOB, the opposing attorney will likely assume a similar style and before long the entire process has degenerated into a petty school yard fight. This might make for good TV, but it doesn't help the client in the real world.
What your attorney should be doing is building a case that sends a message to the other side that, if this case goes to trial, you will win. He should also be contributing to an atmosphere that allows for open communication between both sides about whether the case should be settled. And finally, he should be able to get the other side to pay fair value for the case.
Ask your self this question; If you were going to pay someone money for something, a car, a mowed lawn, anything, would you rather pay that money to someone you liked or disliked? Have you ever been in a situation where you would rather just not complete the transaction than have to deal with the other person anymore. Have you ever said, "I like the food at that restaurant, but the waiter was such a jerk, I'm never giving them any of my money again."
Well, I don't think it is any different when it comes to settling malpractice cases. It is going to be harder to get the other side to pay fair value for your case if they hate your lawyer, and by extension hate you. There comes a point when they would rather walk away from the transaction than put any money in the SOB lawyer's pocket.
I am not saying there are not good lawyers who are SOB's. I'm saying that if they are good lawyers who get good results for their clients, it is in spite of the fact they are SOB's and not because of it.