I notice that lots of personal injury lawyers advertise that they have received big settlements? Should that be a factor in determining what lawyer I should hire?
That may tell you something, and may tell you nothing. Lawyers tell an old joke that goes like this: Do you know how to get a $1,000,000 settlement? Mess up a $2,000,000 case.
Experienced lawyers know that that the size of a verdict or settlement does not reveal much information on how well the case was prepared or tried. Indeed, a sizeable verdict or settlement could mean that the client had a good case and good have had even a better result if a more capable lawyer had handled the case. So, while the size of verdicts and settlements gives you an idea of the size of case the lawyer may have experience working on, it does not tell you much about the quality of the work done on that case.
Also, some lawyers advertise that they have gotten significant settlements or verdicts when they employed another law firm to help them in the case and they in fact did very little work on the case. Such a lawyer is to be applauded for seeking help on the case when it was necessary, but the fact of the matter is that the result in the case was a joint effort and the lawyer may not have been capable of getting the same result on his or her own.
The lawyer’s reputation among his or her peers is much more important than what some ad claims about past results. Other lawyers recognize a high-quality work product and ethical practice and reward those efforts with professional honors.