Civil Litigation for Healing and Closure

The clients we work with have been dealt catastrophic losses, and each client is affected deeply. They each face the tragedy in their own way, trying to make sense of what happened and to begin to heal. The civil justice system is best set up to provide money to compensate someone’s loss, but we’ve found that winning a case for our clients isn’t just about compensation. It’s about healing, and closure, and moving on. And how that happens will vary from client to client.

Some clients need to face the wrongdoer. Others want an explanation—how, why did this occur? Most just want everything back to normal. To achieve this requires attorneys with both a strong legal and emotional skill set.

Asking the right questions

When we first meet clients, our goal is to develop a personal connection with them, not just gather the facts of the case. We seek to peel away the layers to determine what is important to the client—financially, physically, emotionally—to make sure we have a true understanding of the case and the people involved.

We do this by listening carefully. We start by asking a client what their goals are. Often we hear general responses like “I want answers.” We then probe deeper, listening for the real issues.

In a medical malpractice wrongful death case, for example, where a family member has died tragically, we often find our client feels tremendous guilt. They feel they are somehow responsible for what happened. Perhaps if they’d only sought another opinion or asked different or more questions, they think, their loved one would still be alive. In a case like this, one of our goals—both during our meetings, and at trial—is to reassure the family¬ that they did nothing wrong.

We also listen very carefully in these types of cases to understand family dynamics. When someone is seriously injured or killed, it’s important to delve into their relationships with other family members and how they lived their life. That helps us plan tactically how we approach issues at trial. It lets us paint a complete picture of what the victim and their family have lost.

Solid relationships

Our decades of experience have taught us that solid relationships throughout the civil justice system are also critical in achieving successful outcomes for our clients. From judges to co-counsel to opposing counsel to potential clients, we make sure everyone knows that it’s our ultimate goal to reach the best result for our client in the most efficient manner possible.

As civil litigation attorneys, it’s our job to assess what it will take to get to the desired goal, work toward that goal, and gain the respect of our peers and clients along the way. That makes each and every subsequent case that much easier to handle.

Many people think civil litigation attorneys are like two boxers in a ring slugging it out. While knock-down battles are sometimes necessary, when possible we prefer to work things out and avoid unnecessary battle. It’s simply better for our clients.

We don’t needlessly argue over minor legal points, like petty discovery disputes, if it won’t ultimately serve our client. Choosing the right battles builds credibility with the court and opposing counsel, and it avoids tying up a case and prolonging its resolution—all to the benefit of our clients.

Resolve

Just because we understand the art of compromise doesn’t mean we won’t fight for our client with all we’ve got. Knowing when to take a stand is an important aspect of successful civil litigation. We dig in when we need to and are exceptionally tenacious when we feel our client has been wronged.

Recently, our office received a referral from an out-of-state attorney who had referred several clients to us in the past. He told us he knows that we fight hard but that we’re reasonable, which made him confident we’d be able to achieve a successful outcome for his client.

Passion, care, and excellence

We look for these qualities in every person who joins our team, and we live by these qualities with every case.  When it comes to civil litigation, we are passionate about pursuing justice and righting wrongs. It’s just the way we’re wired.

We care deeply about our clients. We get to know them personally so we can understand and internalize their needs. That lets us best represent their interests and help them find peace and closure.

We pursue every case, every client, with excellence. We bring equal parts communication, creativity, and intelligence to each case, which ensures that everyone involved—clients, judges, juries, opposing counsel—ultimately feels like the best possible outcome has been achieved.

We know that a person or family looks to us for help because they want to heal. They want our help putting the pieces of their shattered life back together. We believe it’s our job—our obligation—as civil litigation attorneys to understand what a successful outcome to the case will be for each individual client, and then use everything we’ve got to achieve that outcome.

The outcome of any client’s case will depend on the particular legal and factual circumstances of the case.

What Motivates a Cooper & Elliott Lawyer?

The attorneys of Cooper & Elliott are a unique breed of civil litigation lawyers—and we’re kind of proud of it. The attorneys on our team have a distinct set of qualities and skills that we think give us an advantage when it comes to handling cases.

Thinking quickly and compassionately

To join our team, a candidate must have the things you’d typically expect: they need to be an exemplary researcher and writer and have excelled in law school. But our lawyers also must think fast on their feet. There’s no time to press “pause” when a curveball is thrown at you during trial. A great attorney has to be able to react quickly and seamlessly to make the necessary change. This is a quality all Cooper & Elliott attorneys possess.

We also require compassionate thinking. We hire lawyers with exceptional people skills, folks who are intuitive and sensitive to other people’s suffering. They must be able to communicate precisely and clearly, and they have to be able to connect with both clients and jurors by understanding and presenting difficult issues in high-stakes cases.

Our team members must also be courageous and have an inherent competitive streak. That’s something that can’t be taught; either you have it or you don’t, and to be on the Cooper & Elliott team it must be part of your DNA.

Righting wrongs

We get extreme satisfaction from righting wrongs, finding justice, and helping prevent others from enduring the same tragedies our clients had to live through. When we see that an injustice has been done, we are compelled to make things right—even if it means taking on challenging or unpopular cases.  We have filed lawsuits against churches, non-profits, and popular political leaders, not because we were eager to sue but because in each instance they had violated the law but refused to accept responsibility. Sometimes the pursuit of justice requires us to take action against a popular or powerful defendant, and when it does we don’t shy away.

Making a difference

The most satisfying cases for us are those where we had a significant, positive impact on our clients’ lives. Like the case where a garbage truck drove through the side of a client’s house. In the blink of an eye, our client was effectively made homeless, but because the insurance company felt the house wasn’t worth much due to a sewer problem, the amount they were willing to pay out wasn’t going to be enough to make our client whole again.

We knew the case wasn’t simply about obtaining money for repairs—it was about getting our client back into a livable home and getting his life back to where it had been before the accident. By understanding what our client really needed, and with some tenacity and creativity, our client ultimately received a sum that allowed him to move to a new home and put his life back together.

Getting personal

Getting to know our clients personally not only helps us understand how they’ve been hurt and what they need in order to heal, it helps us argue the case most effectively. Recently, we handled a case where a woman died as a result of negligence by the hospital that was treating her.

To prepare the case, we sat down with every member of this woman’s family to learn about who their mother had been—how kind she had been, how passionate she had been about her community, and how her senseless passing had devastated her entire family. We travelled to each family member’s home—from Florida to California—to look at photos of their deceased mother, hear stories of how integral she was in their lives, and to internalize how her wrongful death had impacted the entire family.

Only by getting to know these family members could we get to know their lost loved one. And only by getting to know this special woman through them could we effectively argue their civil litigation case in court.

Going above and beyond

Ultimately, it’s our goal to help our client meet whatever need has not been met by other means. For us, a successful case is not just about obtaining a large verdict or settlement, although we do work hard to do the best we can in every way for our clients. What really motivates us is a genuine desire to right wrongs, and to help each of our clients move past their loss so they can get on with their lives.

We come to care deeply about each client, and we care an awful lot about making sure wrongs are made right—not only for our particular clients, but for every one of us who might face the same situation in the future.

The outcome of any client’s case will depend on the particular legal and factual circumstances of the case.