About high volume, big advertising law firms — one writer’s view.
In the article, “Run of the Mill Justice” Nora Freeman Engstrom of Stanford Law School interviewed lawyers and paralegals at high volume law firms, and analyzed their not-infrequent disciplinary files. Her conclusion is surprising, but logical: high volume “settlement mill” law firms work because insurance companies, which pay the bills, like them.
Insurance companies might be choosing to cooperate with settlement mills, in part because settlement mills appear willing to settle the largest claims — which present the highest chance of a catastrophic verdict — at an attractive discount. In addition, settlement mills and insurance companies share two sets of overlapping interests: speed and certainty. Insurers, it appears, cooperate with settlement mills, in even marginal cases, because cooperation is profitable.
The article offers a fascinating tour through a little-scrutinized arm of the legal industry in which lawyers with little or no courtroom experience use advertising to draw in unsophisticated clients and process their claims at industrial levels of efficiency.
The author believes these lawyers have no intention of filing suit. What’s more, she suggests, insurance adjusters know this and are more willing to pay hundreds of questionable “little” soft-tissue claims at $2,500 to $5,000 a settlement to insure that the more serious collision case, the kind the right jury might decide was worth millions of dollars, gets settled along with the rest.
There are winners and losers in this game, Engstrom writes. The winners are the high volume law firms, the settlement-mill lawyers who make nice incomes despite having subpar legal skills. The losers are people with serious injuries, who settle their claims for a fraction of what they are “worth,” in terms of the risk-adjusted expected jury verdict.
We have represented clients who have come to us after a bad experience with a high volume firm. While not all of these firms are intentionally harming clients, and some are quite successful, we find our personal approach and complete investigation is appreciated by our clients, and enables us to get the maximum compensation for our clients.