10 Tips for Practicing in Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law
The Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Section participated in a law student roundtable discussion that provided current law students with a better understanding on the experiences, rewards, and challenges practicing attorneys have faced in torts, insurance, and compensation law while offering insight on the various career opportunities available.
From this discussion, Section Members Jim Kelly, Esq. (Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP), Michael P. O’Brien, Esq. (O’Brien Law Firm, PLLC), Brian Rayhill, Esq. (Law Office Of Brian Rayhill), and Tim Fennell, Esq., (Amdursky, Pelky, Fennell and Wallen, PC) compiled 10 tips for law students who are pursuing a career of practicing in Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law:
- In your second year, get a part-time job as a law clerk at a private firm that represents plaintiffs. Then get a job at a firm that represents insurance companies. Tell the firm that you would like to do the grunt work so you can learn. They will reward you for doing so, and let you observe depositions and trials.
- Call the local bar association. Find out when the next open meeting is and go. They will be happy to see a young person and you will be fed, both with knowledge and liquids.
- Never use a law book when you can use a phone book. Because you did #2, you can take advantage of this.
- Get to know your fellow law students. Make friends with as many as you can. You’ll end up being resources for each other the rest of your career. [And this isn’t hyperbole. Michael O’Brien is on a Facebook chat group with at least 40 members of his 1L class at Suffolk. All sorts of practice areas: Real Estate, IP, insurance, family law. They refer to / from each other all the time. In fact, his buddy Ed texted about a Massachusetts med mal case literally while he was writing this tip.]
- Make healthy habits a part of your routine now, while you’re still a student – both physical and mental. Trial work is rewarding but extremely stressful. You must remember to take care of yourself. And if you feel you’re headed down the wrong path, get some help.
- Don’t be afraid to celebrate a job well done. Sometimes you’ll lose a motion/trial despite your best efforts. You’ll feel that all the preparation and hard work was for naught. Try to reward yourself for the fact that you did your best – drinks with friends, a nice dinner, trip to the beach, a long hike, a new tie, a new pair of shoes. Whatever it is, remind yourself that despite the loss, you are a good lawyer. And there will be more cases to work on tomorrow.
- Seek out a Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Mentor or shadow a Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Trial Attorney to obtain courtroom experience.
- Develop your visual trial presentation skills. Judges and juries now expect a visual presentation. Examples include PowerPoint, Accident Reconstruction models, surveillance video and medical devices.
- Consider writing an article for the Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Journal on a new statute or recent appellate decision.
- Getting into a court room is challenging these days. Don’t be afraid to build your experience by handling a mediation, arbitration or hearing as soon as you can.
For more information on the Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Section and resources for law students, please visit nysba.org/lawstudent