National v. Local Law Firms: What You Should Know

Lee S. Goldsmith, M.D., LLB

National law firms have been advertising their services to a greater and lesser extent over the years. The decision to select a national law firm or a local law firm has to be made on a case-by-case basis and the consumer needs to know how each functions. 

Every case is ultimately local. That is where the individual lives. That is, however, not necessarily where the case will be or should be handled.

The person was in an automobile accident. The person was badly treated in a  hospital. That type of case is local.

The person was exposed to asbestos or suffered a drug side effect. That type of case may not be local.

Does the law firm selected, national or local, have the ability to properly represent you and appropriately handle the litigation? Does the law firm have the personnel? Does the law firm have the funds necessary for the litigation? Or does the law firm want to take your case, resolve it quickly, make a quick fee and leave you poorly compensated?

In the 1960s, asbestos litigation was initiated. In the 1990s, litigation was initiated against the tobacco companies. In the 2000s, litigation was initiated against the opioid manufacturers. This type of litigation is called mass tort litigation, as many individuals suffered injury from the same product and suit would have to be brought against large and financially powerful entities. While the litigation may have been started locally, the Federal Courts consolidate all of the cases in another state. Opioid litigation is being handled in Ohio. 

We were involved in the tobacco litigation and are involved in the opioid litigation. We knew that alone we did not have the resources to take on the tobacco industry or the opioid industry. Working with other law firms, both local  and national, we knew that we could represent our local clients, making sure that they received their just reward.  Alone we could not do that. The courts determine what the legal fee will be and that fee was shared among the firms. The clients do not pay additional fees because more than one law firm was involved in the litigation. 

The end result for the individual client in this arrangement, in national litigation, is probably the same. A question remains. Is it better to be treated as one client in a local office working with a national firm -- or the 100th client in a national firm with the same case? 

All other litigation is basically local. The medical malpractice case, the automobile case, the slip and fall case all require knowledge of local law and knowledge of local courts and procedures. 

The national law firm must have an attorney who is admitted to practice in your state. Is that attorney experienced in handling your type of local case?

I have not and do not handle slip and fall cases. I have handled and worked with other attorneys on the difficult medical issues that arise in specific automobile cases. My colleagues handle these cases. They have the experience.

My son and I handle the medical malpractice cases and those matters involving law and medicine. We have years of experience and success in handling medical claims. The medical claim not only requires knowledge of the law and the medicine but also the ability to use that knowledge during depositions and trials.