We spend a lot of time learning our client’s stories. We do that so we can figure out what parts of the case to highlight.
But just as important as discovering the story is finding out the “bad” parts of the case. If we know the challenging information right from the start, we’re able to incorporate it into the case and basically inoculate the case from its effects.
I heard an expression today that I really like: “Make friends with the problem.” To make friends with the problem, we need to know about the problem.
One way to do this is to get all the medical records. Not just the records related to the incident, but all of the medical records—probably the last five or ten years’ worth.
A lot of people ask, “how is that relevant?” I hurt my knee, why do you want records from my urologist?
Maybe the records aren’t relevant. But if there’s one problem in those records we need to know about it.
Clients don’t always like to share “bad” facts. They feel like if they don’t say anything about them, they might not be discovered.
But sometimes things they perceive as problems are really hugely helpful. One of the best examples crops up in head injury cases. People are worried if they admit they’ve had prior concussions or headaches or depression that the defense will argue their symptoms are really just a continuation of something that pre-existed the wreck.
It’s this kind of information that totally explains why some people don’t get better from concussions in three to six months. It puts them in the “miserable minority.” So what they thought might hurt, really ends up helping.
And even if it doesn’t help, or (more accurately) particularly if it doesn’t help, we need to know the whole truth. That helps us keep from putting clients in the position that they’re going to have a problem telling the truth. It really doesn’t matter what we say in court as long as it’s the truth.
To drive that point home, I want to share a quote I heard from a judge: “Jurors will forgive murderers if they tell the truth.”