A Client's Best Friend or "Favorite" Relative Can Be their Worst Enemy in the Litigation Process
All of us have friends or relatives who claim to “know it all”. I recently had the opportunity to meet with a client in the presence of a dear friend who tended to monopolize the conversation and interfere with the proper work to be done by myself, investigator, and associates. The “friend” had watched all too many lawyer TV shows and did not have a clue about the realities of litigation.
The “close friend” who accompanied the client was so insistent on “proving” to me that he had an extensive business background and litigation experience despite the fact that he was rather ignorant and the meeting turned into a contentious waste of time, whereby I felt that the client’s legal interests were being harmed by the “dear friend”. I later learned from the client that the friend previously caused a breakup in other meaningful relationships as well as with attorneys who had been working on her legal case prior to my involvement.
In the last 33 years, I have been involved in legal situations where a friend or relative has interfered with a case so much that their beneficial intentions result in harm.
Many times when there is a tragic event involving catastrophic injury or the loss of a loved one, many friends and relatives come out from the woodwork. Many will have their own view on how the case should be handled, how much money the case is worth, and their own opinions as to liability or jurisdictional issues. Most of the time, their opinions are nothing more than uneducated puffery which act as a fly in the ointment. There is no substitute for experience and after three and a half decades of practicing law, I have come to learn that legal advice should be judged by results and experience and not by the intentions of friends.
The experience and specialized training required to prosecute a complex injury or product liability case in the highly complex structure of the law today is not something that can be taken lightly by any client, friend, or family member.