At Arguello Law Firm, we highly value our clients. We understand that most people have not ever been involved with the justice system, so I thought a brief introduction would be helpful.
First: our justice system is the best in the world, but it is not perfect. Far from it, it has many flaws and sometimes results in unfair results. And certainly, it is slow. Also, just like many things in life, the big insurance companies and corporations have a huge advantage over individuals with limited resources. In the justice system, this most often manifests in teams of defense lawyers with virtually infinite resources taking on an individual and his or her 1-2 lawyers; however, one of the many virtues of our justice system is that good, dedicated, and talented plaintiff’s attorneys, just like David against Goliath, have the opportunity to defeat those much bigger and ridiculously well-funded adversaries and thus obtain a measure of justice to those who have been wronged. Here at Arguello Law Firm, we strive to make this the case for all of our clients. What’s more, we care about you as a person. We will always give you not just the best legal advice, but the best practical advice we can. Ultimately, clients come to us for help, and that help can take many forms. We try to put ourselves in your shoes while at the same time giving you advice from the perspective of someone observing from outside the situation.
Yet, we also need our clients to understand the process and have realistic expectations as well as an appreciation of the position in which we, your lawyers and advocates, find ourselves by representing multiple clients. You know, as much as we would like to be in the role of Tom Hagen/Robert Duvall in The Godfather, we do not have the luxury of representing only one client. So, clients will often get frustrated at not receiving frequent updates, for example. Please understand that if we tried update you every day/week/month, we wouldn’t have time to get much else done. But rest assured, that when something important or that needs your attention happens in your case, our staff will let you know. By necessity, we have to prioritize and deal with the most urgent matters first. Also, as we get into serious litigation and things like depositions, important hearings, and trial, we have to spend a lot of time preparing, researching, and writing for that one particular case; while this could be looked at as putting everyone else on the back burner, I assure you that you would not want it any other way. When your turn comes, you have a right to expect our full attention and effort to be on your matter. This is even more so when it comes to preparing for and prosecuting trials. We, as all real and successful trial lawyers have to, must focus almost exclusively—85% to 90% of our time and energy–on that upcoming trial for at least the two weeks prior to it, and we must focus 70% of our time and attention on a trial for at least the two weeks before that. That means that for at least a month before a trial, we must set aside everything that can wait until after trial. Of course, I’m talking about a trial that is at least 3-5 days long or longer. Conversely, for example, in our landlord-tenant cases 4-6 hours of preparation is sufficient for a non-jury trial in front of a Justice of the Peace.
Fortunately (or not), few cases go as far as actual trial. There are many reasons for this, but, primarily, it is the risk, time, and expense that you, the defendants, and we run by going “all the way.” For example, by the time we tried our last case, we wound up putting over five hundred hours of labor and tens of thousands of dollars in through the time we got a jury verdict and judgment in our favor. The trial before that, we had spent well over $50,000 (that’s right, over fifty grand on one case) on expenses like expert witnesses, video deposition, and etc. by the time we got to trial, and our firm had put in nearly 1,150 hours into this one case by the time we got to a final judgment. The process took several years, but ultimately, we got the jury verdict and judgment in our favor. Notably, this case was appealed, and due to a technical mistake in the jury instructions, the case must be re-tried. It has now been 6+ years since we originally got the case. Considering all of these things, it should be clear that if a chance for a decent settlement had come six months or a year into the case, it would be worth very serious consideration—as they say, a bird in the hand… So, that gives you an idea of why very few cases reach trial as well as what is at stake for both the clients and the lawyers.
I think that you will find the following links helpful in understanding the steps in the litigation process. Just keep in mind that almost all these steps take time, and, while you may grow frustrated, it is not your lawyers’ fault. If the defendant wanted to settle the cases the day after they got our demand letters, you wouldn’t have to wait much at all; unfortunately, that’s not the case and delay, delay, delay is the rule for insurance companies. The wheels of our justice system turn very slowly, but they do turn. Eventually, they usually grind out a just result, so it is worth being patient—and, there’s really no alternative.