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You wouldn’t want a surgeon who had never performed a particular operation cutting his teeth on you. The same is true for large products liability, bad faith, trucking accidents, and similar claims involving catastrophic injuries. But evaluating the relevant experience of a lawyer is difficult. Some lawyers like to brag about the number of jury trials they have had, and it is certainly important to have enough face time in front of a jury to learn the ropes.

The trouble with the ‘head count’ approach, however, is that all jury trials are not created equal. An assistant state attorney may handle a day-long trial or two every week, involving car thefts, drug possession, or similar matters. A two or three year lawyer can rack up an impressive looking number of jury trials in that setting, and that work is unquestionably important to society.

However, those trials have very little in common with the onslaught that gets unleashed in a case where one side is seeking to recover tens of millions of dollars from a giant corporation or insurance company. The same could be said for a lawyer who works for several years defending small matters as in house counsel for an insurance company. Relatively speaking, the preparation and complexity between those cases and a major wrongful death trial is as different as night and day.

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