I got a call from a really nice woman who had a civil matter in Tennessee that she needed legal help with. She lived in Tennessee, but told me that she wanted an Illinois lawyer because, “All of the lawyers down here are connected and know each other.”
I explained to her that it would cost and arm and a leg to get an Illinois law firm to go to TN and that even if cost wasn’t an issue, unless it was a unique case like a trucking crash, getting someone local was a better idea.
It got me thinking though (do I write like Carrie Bradshaw), do people in Illinois worry that all of the lawyers are connected?
First off, there are over 90,000 people licensed to practice law in IL, 70,000+ of whom reside here. In Cook County alone there are about 40,000 attorneys. My job is to network with lawyers and even as someone who knows more lawyers than most people, I bet I don’t know more than 1,500 or so.
The point is that we aren’t all connected and even if we were, it’s not like we sit around and talk about selling out our clients because we are buddies. Some of the most legendary battles at the Daley Center involve prominent plaintiff and defense lawyers who battle tooth and nail and then when the trial is over they’ll meet up for a cocktail or dinner.
Most of us are competitors. It’s no different than if I was playing against a friend in basketball. I play to win. We also are businessmen and women. Not so hidden secret, attorneys like to make money. If we sold out our clients for our friends then we’d not make as much and we’d probably lose the client. I promise you that this just does not happen.
Beyond all of this, if we got caught doing what this caller alleged, we’d lose our license to practice law. So to believe these theories, you’d have to believe I’d be willing to lose my career just so a friend looks good.
I get why people feel this way, especially when they think they have a great case, but can’t get representation or when the case isn’t going their way. You might have hired the wrong firm for you or maybe you don’t really have a good case or maybe you just need to look more. Whatever the reason, I guarantee you that we aren’t colluding against you or working with the other side. Even the crappy attorneys who I’d never recommend don’t do this stuff.