How Do I Know I’m Choosing the Right Law Firm?

With so many personal injury firms out there trying to sell you their services, the process of choosing a law firm can get confusing, if not downright frustrating. We understand. So how can you know when you are choosing the right law firm to represent your interests? We suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:

Does the law firm I am considering possess unsurpassed qualifications and offer me the benefit of years of experience representing injured individuals?

At Wagner McLaughlin, our collective expertise and qualifications are unparalleled. When Bill Wagner opened the firm in 1967, the modest storefront in downtown Tampa gave little hint of its rich heritage. Both partners had practiced with a law firm in Miami headed by the legendary Perry Nichols, the pioneer of personal injury law and the first attorney to win a large verdict in Florida.

Forty-five years later, that history of excellence has helped produce a team of professionals with unsurpassed experience and expertise. Four of our firm’s senior partners have been recognized as Civil Trial Advocates by the National Board of Trial Advocacy ( and as board-certified civil trial lawyers by The Florida Bar. Board certification is an accomplishment achieved by fewer than two percent of attorneys in Florida. Firm members have also earned election to the American College of Trial Lawyers ( and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (, honors reserved for only a limited number of trial attorneys in the state and nation. They have held important leadership positions in local, state, and national professional organizations and been honored repeatedly with listings in The Best Lawyers in America ( and Superlawyers ( The firm has earned an “AV” rating, a designation of “very high to preeminent” — the highest rating available from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (

Is the law firm I am considering willing – and able – to take my case all the way to trial?

You can see it when you open the yellow pages or drive down the highway: lots of lawyers and firms like to call themselves experts in personal injury law. Many of these firms stay in business by taking in cases with the upfront goal of settling them, thereby earning themselves a relatively quick fee – even though settling may not be in the best interests of the client. Others just get a case and send it to another lawyer to handle, earning part of the fee just for referring the client.

Sometimes settlement is the way to go. But if getting just and fair compensation for our client requires going to trial, Wagner McLaughlin is not the least bit afraid of taking our clients’ claims all the way into the courtroom. And we have sufficient financial resources to pursue those claims for as long as it takes to get our clients the money they deserve.

What is the record of success of the law firm under consideration?

This is the place where many other law firms try to entice you to sign up simply by reciting a brief description of some of the cases it has won or settled, followed by one or more six- or seven-digit dollar amounts recovered for their clients.

Wagner McLaughlin likes big numbers as much as the next person. We’ve produced many legal landmarks over the years and have earned many substantial verdicts and awards for our clients.

But we’re not going to dazzle you here with a bunch of zeros. They may look flashy and impressive, but they don’t tell the entire story, and they can often be misleading in presenting a lawyer’s abilities and qualifications.

Let’s take a closer look at this. It is often quite easy for a lawyer to settle a two-million dollar case for one-million dollars. Not only easy – but good for the lawyer, since he or she not only earns a percentage of that recovery but can walk away with bragging rights at having settled a “million-dollar case.” Let’s face it, most clients do not know the difference between a $500,000 case and a $900,000 one – they depend on their lawyer for that advice. It takes a good lawyer to work hard on a tough $100,000 case and maximize the case value for the injured client. Here at Wagner McLaughlin, we do not just settle cases. We go for every penny our clients deserve.

Of course, we have settled, tried, and won multi-million dollar cases; our lawyers have gone up against insurance companies, hospitals, and other large corporations and have obtained millions for our clients. But that is not everyday business. More often, we are fighting hard for the so-called “little guy” — and will go to every length possible to see that he or she wins the battle. We are just as proud to have won a $100,000 case as we are to have won a million-dollar lawsuit, fair and full, and we don’t gauge how much effort we put into a given case by how much money the case may bring in. Our mission is to make sure our clients get just compensation for their losses – and that mission doesn’t change with the price tag.

So what’s our advice? Don’t be fooled by a dollar sign next to a big number. Every case is different. Our clients don’t need lawyers who can win John Doe’s case; they need lawyers who can win their case. We’ve been trying cases for nearly half a century, and we’ve gained the knowledge and experience necessary to take on a variety of cases on behalf of injured plaintiffs. If you like, we are happy to discuss with you the many successes we have had over the past 45-plus years that we have been representing the injured.

Who will be handling my case at the firm I am considering?

At most personal injury law firms, one attorney works on your case – and maybe not even that many. It is common practice in some firms, once an attorney is hired, to pass the case off to a paralegal or junior staffperson at the firm – meaning you seldom see the lawyer who should be working on your case.

When you hire an attorney at Wagner McLaughlin, you are not getting the services of just one attorney. You are hiring the expertise of our entire firm, no matter the size of your case. In addition to our lawyers, we have a full staff of experienced and dedicated support personnel, including legal assistants, paralegals and independent investigators, and this entire team works to make sure that everything possible is done to get you a successful result.

Having our entire firm work on your case, however, doesn’t mean you don’t get personalized service. At our firm, the attorney responsible for your care is the one who will work directly with you throughout the entire process. If your case goes to trial, you will always have at least two lawyers there at court with you. If you call and are told your attorney is not in the office, he is out of the office and will call you back. If he is there, he will always take your call. We know that each case requires personal attention — which is why our lawyers, not just our secretaries or paralegals, are available to talk with you directly about your options for pursuing your claim. We are devoted to giving the best service possible to all of our clients. That exceptional level of service is one of many attributes that continually earns us an “AV” Rating, the highest available from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, one of the oldest and best-known catalogues of lawyers in the United States.

So why wait? Contact our Tampa personal injury attorney today so that we may review your case and give you a free case evaluation.

There’s no obligation to you, or to us — just an important exchange of information that could be most instrumental in helping you decide on the right law firm for you and your situation. If we are not the right firm, we are happy to suggest one or more that might be, all without any cost to you.