For better or worse (most people say worse) there are more than 60,000 attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois and more than 35,000 of those are in the City of Chicago with another 7,500+ in other parts of Cook County.
We talk a lot on the site about what gives you the best chance for success. If you have a Cook County case, especially one that will be heard downtown at the Daley Center, the fact of the matter is that a loop lawyer increases your chances for a good result. There are numerous reasons for this:
1. The main court, the Daley Center, is downtown in the loop. That is where 90%+ of family law cases take place and almost all major injury cases are handled (medical malpractice, car accidents, wrongful death, etc.). It is also where 100% of Cook County probate cases are heard. If you are an attorney who regularly appears in this court, you want to be nearby so it’s not a pain to get to and from court. It’s not uncommon for a lawyer to have a meeting in office at 8:00 a.m., court from 9-10:30, another meeting at 11 and then court again in the afternoon. If your office is in the suburbs or in other parts of the City, going to court would really disturb your practice. In some cases attorneys end up charging clients for travel time or sending lesser experienced associates.
2. Because most cases are downtown, if you are there more then you get to know the Judge’s better. If the Judge likes your lawyer more than the lawyer on the other side it is a good thing.
3. The only Federal Court in northern Illinois is also in the loop. So for any Federal lawsuits or Federal criminal cases, the same statements as above apply.
4. The most accomplished attorneys are downtown. This is just a fact. Sure there have been times when good results have been achieved at the Daley Center by lawyers who aren’t in the loop. But if you look at the firms that get the best results year after year they are all within a few blocks of Daley Plaza.
Once a week we get a call from someone who was in a car accident in the burbs and hired a suburban lawyer because they didn’t want to have to deal with coming downtown. The story almost always goes the same, something like, “He’s always out of the office so I never get a call back.” These attorneys are out of the office because of the travel time involved going to and from court.
By the way, we get people that don’t want to come downtown. The novelty of it wore off for me years ago too. But the reality is that when you are involved in a case you almost never have to go downtown as attorneys usually work by phone and e-mail. In fact we know many lawyers who have handled entire cases without ever meeting their client face to face because there was never a need (FYI, in many cases the attorney will send you paperwork to sign up or come to your house).
I thought of this when I read about a wrongful death lawsuit that was being filed by a younger attorney in which he asked for $100 million in the complaint. That’s a great headline getter, but has no basis in reality. I looked the attorney up because I had never heard of him and sure enough he is located in a mostly residential neighborhood. Now I don’t know him and he may do great work on this case. But if history is any indicator, he is not the best choice to handle this case.
No attorney can guarantee a result on a case so as a client you have to do what you can to increase your chances of a good outcome. Location of the lawyer is the first thing to think about when it comes to hiring a Cook County law firm.
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