Dan Baldwin 2013-05-03 00:17:42
“I am very much a person who wants to help people. Corporations and insurance companies don’t need any help. They’re fine. But taking on a defendant in a large damages case can be overwhelmingly frustrating and difficult, unless you’re properly represented,” says Mark Gilling, founder of Gilling Legal Group. A personal and professional commitment to overcoming those challenges and frustrations has helped create a unique practice, a large group of satisfied clients and a long list of referring lawyer-partners. “I am a boutique firm – a litigation firm. In my twenty years of practice, I have developed the skill set and resources to handle the larger, more complex personal injury cases,” Gilling says. Gilling Legal Group handles a small volume of big damages cases and on average carries ten to twelve cases at a time – all half a million to million dollar cases. Gilling’s recoveries for his respective clients over the last several years include numerous multi-million dollar recoveries including, for example, $7.8 million, $3.0 million, and $2.8 million and others. “The cases in my wheelhouse are worth one million or more, which is why I carry only about ten cases at a time. I’m not a high volume guy who handles soft tissue car accident cases,” Gilling says. Most of the firm’s cases involve catastrophic injury or death resulting from automobile or trucking accidents, product defects, or industrial or workplace accidents. Gilling has particular experience handling vehicle rollover and tire defects. “My cases usually involve a death or a situation in which someone has a significant life care claim,” says Gilling. The firm doesn’t handle many plaintiff medical malpractice cases, but does touch on areas that involve negligence in the context of medical issues such as medical devices or defective products related to pill manufacture. They also handle bad faith insurance cases. Taking On Referrals and Training Other Lawyers Many of his clients come by way of referrals from other lawyers who find the experience not only lucrative financially but also a career enhancing opportunity to learn new aspects of the law. Lawyers and legal firms who focus on other areas of the law, such as divorce, criminal law, family or probate, and so on, from time to time get a call on a personal injury case that is outside of their experience and knowledge base – particularly the bigger cases. They don’t necessarily know how to handle these bigger cases or even properly evaluate them. Gilling has a policy of working with the lawyers who call him in these situations. “When lawyers refer a case to me, I work with them on it so they get to learn. I’ll share the fee equally with them and that is not typical. Most lawyers who refer a case to a lawyer will refer it and stay as minimally involved as possible, collect a nominal fee share and move on,” Gilling says. He notes that these lawyers never advance their own knowledge and skill set so that they can evaluate and understand what makes for a good case when similar opportunities arise in the future. The firm has a policy of encouraging referring lawyers to stay involved meaningfully so that the lawyers learn how to evaluate and potentially handle a similar case in the future. Through their involvement they learn the various aspects of that type of case, the strategy involved in handling the case, and even the intricacies of such important matters as learning how to take depositions, retaining experts and mainly the complex strategies involved in a large damages case. The lawyers who work with Gilling Legal Group in this manner end up being compensated much more handsomely because of the partnership. Gilling Legal Group appeals to the lawyers who may not even understand the difference between a good and bad case. Often lawyers and firms pass up real opportunities only to realize, after it is too late, or never realize at all, that they have walked away from a million dollar case. This situation frequently happens in cases involving automobiles. Gilling cites as an example a hypothetical automobile accident case. Many lawyers might assume that the only target defendant is the other driver who caused the accident. They deal with the insurance company for that at-fault driver. They may get the policy limit of $100,000 and then they move on to the next client. They never stop to think that there may be a seat belt defect that caused or contributed to the injury, or that there may be an air bag, a tire defect or some other problem and other target defendant that they don’t even know to look for. “I see these referrals as an opportunity to spread some of my knowledge to other lawyers who are glad to know it. If they work with me, when a client calls they are able to discuss the case and know what the issues are. They can talk from experience and knowledge. I want those lawyers in other practice areas who get a call and they’re not sure what they have to know they can call me. They may have nothing or they may be sitting on a very lucrative case and they don’t even know it. It’s my sincere hope that when a lawyer works with me that they will eventually learn how to handle a case on their own. They may not want to, but they’ll learn how to,” Gilling says. One lawyer, who has worked with Gilling on several cases, vouches for the benefit of the experience. “I call Mark the Man with the Golden Mind because of the successful results he achieves. Even in a case where the policy limit was low, he achieved a significant result well beyond the policy limit by virtue of his knowledge of bad faith law. When I refer a case to Mark, I know I can turn off my worry meter because the case is going to be handled properly, and I get to learn from him as well,” says Dan Evans, who has referred numerous cases to Gilling. Also, a referral relationship is usually called for because it’s not unusual for these serious injury or death cases to have $100,000, sometimes $200,000 in costs. It is important, according to Gilling, to be able to match the effort that will be expended by a defendant in such cases, both in terms of manpower and money. “This is more of a risk than many lawyers can absorb on their own. What I think I do best is find how to get to the end game where your client gets paid as quickly as possible for the proper value on the case with the least amount of trouble and cost, but if necessary I can expend both the time and money that a difficult case requires.” Gilling says. Working for That One Good Day Because of the type of cases Gilling Legal Group handles the firm works very closely with an individual or a family for the duration of the case. As a result, he forms a close relationship with the client. Gilling says that as a result he gets emotionally invested in his cases, which fuels his fire to achieve a successful result in the client’s favor. Gilling says, “You hope to get to that one good day for them where everything turns and they get that hole in their heart filled and they can step off the emotional roller coaster for a while. They get some resolution and they get a chance to turn the page and get on with their life. That to me is very rewarding and it’s worth it. If they’re in the risk pool with you, and in these cases they always are, you live the misery with them and you get to live a little bit of the joy, too.” “The gratification of helping people who are in need is the best part of what I do. Hopefully, you then have a friend for life. And then you have a new person you get to help and you have a new challenge coming in the door. Together with the relationships I have formed with other lawyers, I call that a rewarding practice and rewarding life.”
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