How do I know if my lawyer believes in my case?
The litigation law firm is far different from the "TV law firm" in a major respect: litigation law firms generally invest money in their cases, finding the best expert witnesses and preparing demonstrative exhibits and computer animations for trial.
If you want to find out if you lawyer cares about your case, ask him for a list of the expenses (case expenses are called "disbursements"), that he has incurred while handling your case. At the end of the case, you are responsible to reimburse your lawyer for his expenses, and therefore, you are entitled to get an itemized list of case expenses from your lawyer whenever, and as frequently, as you want. If the lawyer refuses to give you an itemized list of the expenses, it is time to find a new lawyer.
If you get an itemized list of the lawyer's expenses on your case, check to see how many expert witnesses the lawyer has retained, and the money that he has spent on your case. If the lawyer has spent a very small sum of money on your case, or there are long periods of time where no money has been spent on your case (i.e., four months or longer), he is unwilling to invest in your case and you should find a new lawyer. You want a lawyer who is willing to invest in your case -- this means that the lawyer likes your case and believes you will ultimately recover money that will pay him back in spades.
Recently, I agreed to review a case on behalf of a client who was dissatisfied with the way that his former attorney was handling his case. I asked the client's former attorney for his case file and I discovered that the lawyer had only spent $ 1,400 in expenses on the case. Most of the case expenses of the former attorney related to court costs that had nothing to do with the proper preparation of the case. The list of expenses spoke volumes about the poor preparation by the attorney and the lack of money and time that he was willing to invest in the case.
In my estimation, the case required a minimum expenditure of $15,000 to $20,000 to retain three expert witnesses who were essential to the presentation of the case at trial. Not only had the former attorney not retained any expert witnesses, his list of expenses revealed that there were long periods of time that the lawyer had not spent a single dime preparing the case or advancing the case in any way. This was a red flag to say the least!
As a result of the former lawyer's minimal expense of time and money on the case, the best offer that the lawyer received for the client was $20,000 and he tried, without success, to force the client to accept the offer. After the case was transferred to my law firm, I retained the expert witnesses, deposed all of the key witnesses, and spent approximately $20,000 preparing the case for trial. After several months of investing in the case, the insurance carrier for the negligent party increased their offer from $20,000 to $300,000. This investment of money and time resulted in an increase in the settlement offer of $280,000!
This shows why you want your lawyer to invest in your case. If your lawyer is willing to invest in your case with his money and time, he believes in you and your case. Nothing is more important.