Law Career

Law Career started in San Francisco

My law career has spanned more than 40 years and has provided a rich diversity of experience that helps my clients to achieve the best possible outcome in their cases.  I first began at a law firm in San Francisco, and learned the skills of a trial attorney. I was then hired by a law firm in Orange County, and thereafter started my own law firm, concentrating on personal injury and trials.

Orange County Personal Injury Law Career

Although for most of my years I have been retained by insurance companies, I have always maintained a personal injury practice representing the party that has been injured. These cases have run the gamut from simple automobile accidents to complex toxic tort claims against the US Government. I have tried cases in dozens of venues around the State of California, from Indio, San Diego, Riverside, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Plumas, Pomona, etc.

American Board of Trial Advocates

In the ensuing and intervening years of my law career, I continued to practice law in the field of personal injury. In 1989, I qualified to become a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. This organization represents some of the finest trial attorneys in the country. You have to not only have tried a certain number of jury trials, but you must have a reputation of a professional, ethical, and skilled trial attorney. If these standards are not maintained, the attorney is asked to leave the organization.

Committed to the Personal Attention Our Southern California Clients Deserve

I have often seen, in my many years, too many attorneys who have not done their client the justice that they deserve. Too many attorneys take cases in which they really have no interest. The most often seen and heard complaint is that the client is not kept informed as to what is going on, does not return calls, nor respond to emails, etc. That is why in our office we do not screen calls and we respond to emails immediately. We provide our clients with my cell number, and I will speak to clients on week ends, or whenever they call. Many times I will spend time with a caller, explaining the law, and the legal issues that concern him or her, when we simply receive a “cold call”, from a non client. I often provide free legal work on those cases where an attorney is simply not justified in being involved.

State of California Personal Injury Practice – San Diego to San Francisco to Los Angeles and Orange County

The practice of law in the personal injury field continues to get tougher and tougher. The costs to take a case to trial continue to rise. The juries are more educated. Attorneys continue to try and find ways to help educate juries as to the issues that are confronting them. The use of computers and animations are becoming more prevalent in the court room. We have frequently use accident reconstruction computer animations to explain our positions.

Experience Dealing with Insurance companies Rivers Morrell III

The insurance companies, in their continuing efforts to control costs have the ability to spend “millions for defense, and not a cent for tribute”. Although this aspect of the practice has changed, in the sense that many insurance companies do take a practical approach, some do not. Some insurance companies will spend an additional $5000 on defending a case, when they could spend another $500 to settle it. But it is their money and they often want to send a message to those who want to sue. It is a continuing effort on the part of insurance companies to control costs, control attorneys fees, etc. They cannot, for the most part, however, control a jury.

I remember a case where I had been asked to defend a party that had run a red light. The only issue was the value of the case. It came down to a settlement demand of $9000, and an offer of $7000. Neither side would budge. After these respective settlement talks, I was asked to take the deposition of the treating chiropractor. He showed up, and wanted to charge $750 per hour. The insurance company thought this was too much. They asked me to go to court and see if I could get the court to reduce the fees. The court did reduce the charges to $350 per hour. I then started the deposition a second time, and this time completed it. The insurance company had to pay for my time, the court reporter’s first appearance, my time to go to court to reduce the fees, the second court reporter’s fees, and the doctor’s fees. We were still $2000 apart.

The case still did not settle, and we proceeded to trial. I appeared in court, and waited 2 ½ days, waiting for a trial court room to open. No court room became available, and I had to repeat this a second time months later, and again for a third time. We continued to be $2000 apart. The insurance company probably spent an additional $10,000 in attorneys fees and costs. Eventually on the third trial appearance, after a day of waiting, both sides split the difference and the case settled for $8000.

An attorney must know when to settle a case, and when to go to trial

Although this is probably a rare event, it does demonstrate where some insurance companies are, and what they will do to defend a case. I have extensive experience with insurance companies, and understand their thinking, and what they need to resolve a case. Too often they are thought of as the enemy, and the attorney does not want to give them what they need because of that thinking.

However, it is our job, and responsibility, to provide the insurance company with everything they need in order to evaluate the case. If they are not in agreement with our evaluation of the case, then we have the experience to take the case to a jury, and provide the jury with what they need to evaluate the case. The insurance company, and their attorneys, need to know that the attorney that is representing the plaintiff is experienced, and prepared to present the case to the jury, if needed. An attorney’s first duty is to his or her client, and not the attorney’s ego. An attorney must know when to settle a case, and when to go to trial. He must “know when to hold them, and when to fold them”.