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K. Lindsay Rakers
K. Lindsay Rakers
Attorney • (314) 588-8500

What I Love Most About Being a Lawyer

7 comments

When I was younger, I was aware that my grandfather was a Judge (Judge Gail McWard) in Taylorville, Illinois (Christian County). I watched folks look up to my grandfather in that small town. Back then, being a lawyer was still a noble profession. Aside from meaning you likely made a good living, lawyers and judges were respected in the community for being stand-up citizens – giving back – doing something with their lives. As time has gone on, things have changed. Now we are in a place where lawyers are the subject of many jokes, where people shy away when they hear what we do for a living, where no longer are we respected, we are actually looked down upon. Why? I have many opinions about this but one of the biggest reasons is that we shoot ourselves in our own foot.

I am very vocal about "not liking insurance companies". For the most part, I find that insurance companies take advantage of people – insurance adjusters use their "power" and position to bully the injured into giving recorded statements, settling cheap, not hiring attorneys. But of course, there are some good insurance agents out there – there are some good attorneys out there who represent insurance companies respectfully. So I am part of the problem. I make generalizations about insurance companies due to my strong feelings and my past experiences and dealings with adjusters.

The public does the same thing with lawyers. And injured person may hire an attorney and have a horrible experience with that attorney. It leaves a bad taste in his mouth. He starts badmouthing lawyers in general and it catches on. We, as lawyers, are also rude to each other. Just because we are on opposite sides and have a job to protect our client doesn't mean we can't be kind to each other. There is nothing more annoying than lawyers yelling at other lawyers – it gives us a poor image. What else gives us a poor image? When we, as lawyers, do exactly what we are being criticized for doing. Take the recent elections, for example. We all criticize politicians for being dishonest and saying whatever is necessary to win an election and by slinging mud at the other candidate. We all witnessed this first hand as we watched various politicians do these exact things. We were relieved that the election came to an end – no more lies, no more mud slinging.

Likewise, with attorneys, we do ourselves no favors when we do exactly what people dislike about lawyers. When we yell at each other – when we fail to keep in contact with our clients and then take 40% of their settlement – when we do whatever it takes to get a case in the door including putting sleazy ads out for the public to see – we become exactly what they hate. And when we do that, we deserve the chatter, we deserve the critique.

What do I like most about being a lawyer? I control my own destiny. I like not being like the rest. I truly believe that I can make this profession better. I enjoy creating long lasting relationships with my clients. I enjoy getting to know other attorneys, even those on the opposite side of the case. I enjoy learning of new ways to use my law degree to connect with my community. I enjoy doing things within my power to be a part of a movement that is aimed at returning honor to this profession. Sure, when I take a case to a jury and the jury rules that my client is entitled to money, it is a fantastic feeling. Sure, when I argue a huge motion to a judge and I beat my opponent, it feels great. But nothing feels better than knowing I can practice law in an ethical, compassionate way. I look in the mirror and feel good. I sleep well at night. It isn't about how many cases I can handle at once, how many wins I have under my belt, how much money I make in a year. It's much, much more than that. And that's what I love about being a lawyer.

Lindsay Rakers, personal injury attorney in St. Louis, Missouri

7 Comments

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  1. jc says:
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    Linda – -I am one of the many clients that hates attorneys. My colleagues and I have been on the receiving end of many frivolous malpractice suits. Generally these suits are brought by incompetent plaintiff attorneys. Yes while the attorneys like to talk about incompetent doctors, plaintiff attorney shortcomings are legion! 80% of malpractice cases that go to trial are won by the defendant doctor. That means that plaintiff attorneys have an 80% failure rate! A rate of failure unmatched in American Industry! My medical malpractice carrier claims that they win 94% of their trial cases and 84% of their cases are dropped before trial. While a doctor has to undergo extensive credentialing before practicing in a hospital, a lawyer does not have to bother with that! Yep, right after passing the bar exam, a lawyer can sue a doctor the next day. Med Mal suits are highly complex and allowing a green lawyer to try the case is akin to allowing an intern to do complex neurosurgery the day after his internship – -no hospital would allow it! So if you really want to help the legal profession, how about insisting that your state bar association enact an internship or something so that plaintiff attorneys get some training before filing complex malpractice litigation. It would help us doctors and the public out immensely.

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: The lady’s name is “Lindsay”, not “Linda”. This 80% argument from you is the same tired argument you have used in post after post on this site. It fails, as always with your comments, to take into account the vast majority of cases that SETTLE in plaintiffs’ favor without a trial. Without applying the “settlement percentage” your statistic, as always, is worthless. Plaintiff attorneys reasonably settle good cases; defendant doctors force trial on all marginal cases and lose (according to you) 20% of those, hence your skewed statistic. If you really wish to engage in a meaningful discussion about medical malpractice litigation, why not start by being truthful?

  3. jc says:
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    Mark, I am currently considering changing my malpractice carrier to The Medical Protective Company. In their literature, they say that they win 94% of their cases at trial and 84% of their cases are settled with no payment to the plaintiff. So the truth is that most cases that plaintiff attorneys file are dropped, or dismissed by the court or at trial. Only a small percentage of plaintiffs ever get any monitary award from suing a doctor. Mark, why don’t you start being truthful about the scandilously poor success rate of plaintiff attorneys? As I told Lindsay, no wonder lawyers have such a bad reputation.

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    JC, we do get training as attorneys, you know that. Just as I have said many times before, there are some good doctors, there are some careless ones. There are some good lawyers, there are some bad ones. Don’t turn this into a medical malpractice reform debate. You are missing the point of my post. The point is that when we get our law degree, we have a choice to make – we can practice law with integrity and compassion, always striving to be better, or we can practice in a different way. I have enjoyed practicing law the way I practice law. I sue people and corporates who have hurt my clients and who have refused to own up to their mistakes. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, if it wasn’t done, there would be no accountability.

  5. jc says:
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    Lindsay – -After I finished medical school, I spent 6 years in training in my speciality. I then took boards and submitted my credentials to a hospital credentialing committee and I had to get accepted on staff at a hospital before I could get privileges to perform my speciality and practice. This is standard for doctors. Besides passing the bar exam, what did you have to do as a lawyer to allow you to file a lawsuit against a doctor? Nothing! Yet medical malpractice litigation is about the most difficult litigation out there and you had no specialized training to allow you to sue a doc in court. Is it any wonder that the majority of malpractice suits which you and other plaintiff attorneys bring (80-95%) are dismissed with no payment from the doctor. An 80-95% failure rate is not just a few bad apple lawyers, it is a systemic problem with you and the legal profession and it explains why lawyers are held in such poor regard by the public. If you truly mean what you say regarding the integrity of your profession, I would expect you to be an advocate for more advanced education for plaintiff attorneys so that they could more competently represent their clients. You should demand legal sanctions against poorly performing lawyers. You should want plaintiff attorneys held accountable when they file frivolous malpractice lawsuits. Do you do any of those things?

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    I’m sorry this article got side-tracked, Lindsey. I liked it a lot. The other great thing that happened while you were in law school was that you became a great writer allowing you to share with all the great work you do as an advocate. I encourage you to continue to report on the great work you do as a voice to those that find themselves needing someone to stand up to large insurance companies and corporations and ignore the hallowed voices of your critics that continually repeat faulty data. I am sure that you have made your grandfather very proud.

  7. jc says:
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    Lindsay, I agree with Jessica, you are a good writer. Maybe you should give up law and become a writer and make the world a better place for all of us.