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Why We Do What We Do

We all have those days where nothing seems to go right. If you’re a lawyer, especially one who has been around awhile, it’s when every other email seems to present some unexpected problem or delay. Clients call you with problems or complaints you can’t fix – and, worse, are often of your own making. The case you expected to settle does not. The list could go on. Well, the other day I was having one of those days – in fact, it seems I have had more than a few lately.

Then I received an email from a client whose FTCA medical malpractice case we settled a few months ago. The veteran’s medical care had been poor and the consequences real and permanent. We had gotten him a good settlement, but I will not deny that I dreaded opening his message. In light of the day’s trajectory, I feared there must be some issue or problem that had now been discovered. I was so wrong. The email had a picture of a house. The message was that the client and his wife had just closed on its purchase. He thanked us for making it possible. At that point, my day took a 180 degree turn.

We are a law firm, a business, and we obviously need to make money. It’s not always easy, especially when you are dealing with the vagaries of the government. But my client’s message and the picture of his house were a needed reminder that what we do is not simply about money. As lawyers, we can help people repair lives damaged by medical malpractice at VA and military facilities. Of course, we cannot undo or reverse what happened to them, but sometimes we can get them the resources to cope better.

Medical malpractice cases are not easy ones. I have been handling them for 30 years, originally defending doctors in Virginia and now representing veterans and military families nationwide. These cases are often complex. The necessary experts are expensive. The travel can be wearing. The stress of running a law practice is significant. My client’s message was a far greater boost to my morale than he could have imagined. After his injuries, our client was living with relatives. He and his wife had no home. Now they do – and that’s a big difference in their lives. It’s why we do what we do.


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