Law school classmate, friend, co-counsel, and fellow injury lawyer, Joshua Fogelman joins Hill Law Firm Cases podcast to discuss injury law, San Antonio, and trying case. He also discusses the business of personal injury law and opening multiple offices.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real. These are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases. I’m here with Josh Fogelman, again. The point of this podcast is I want to talk about the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis, the issues we run into every day, so to give an inside look at a personal injury law firm in San Antonio. Josh has worked in San Antonio. He has a law firm in Austin called Fogelman Von Flatern. Or is it fvflaw.com?
Josh Fogelman: That’s right, fvlawfirm.com.
Justin Hill: fvlawfirm.com. They’re a great plaintiffs personal injury firm up there, handle stuff all over the state of Texas. I wanted to get Josh on here and just get some sort of off the cuff responses, some insights on what he thinks about the personal injury, profession and practice. We’ve previously talked about a case we tried to verdict the UIM case. Then we worked another case involving a premises liability, sort of a strange case that involved air conditioning companies and a hotel company and strange medical experts and all kinds of stuff. It was a real complex case. It was a lot of fun.
Let me tell you. My favorite thing about practicing law, the one favorite thing I get to do in the finite is, I like to cross-examine expert witnesses. I found that too often, they’re unprepared and too often, they are pompous in their unpreparedness. It really creates this great situation where you’ve got somebody who is very proud of themselves, very confident and has not prepared. That is just a great situation for lawyers that want to spend the time preparing, knowing they’re talking to somebody smarter than them, knowing they’ve got to overcome this hurdle, but the same time knowing that other side probably didn’t prepare and stay up as late as you did or spend the last five days getting ready.
What’s one of your favorite things to do within the working up of a case or within litigation that you enjoy?
Josh: I really enjoy the medicine side of what we do. I love learning about how injuries affect the body, how the body recovers from injuries and really trying to visualize what’s going on inside someone’s body that’s causing them some sort of pain or impairment. I just really enjoy that stuff.
Justin Hill: I started doing more and more of it. Do you use the visual aids of the medical illustrations much in your cases?
Josh: Yes, we’re starting to do that more and more as well. Trying to help a jury visualize and understand the lingo of what it is that you’re talking about so that they can get through the medical terminology that can be cumbersome for anybody to understand and then helping to paint a picture for them in a way that they can relate in the real world so that they can really understand the gravity of what is going on inside our clients’ bodies. We use full stuff.
Justin Hill: I have a case right now. We did the video tour of the injury. It’s a whole video that kind of hits each injury area of the body and plays it out. I think I still like the old big boards better with just a big drawing with labels because I think there’s a dramatic effect of carrying and holding a board. It’s not a video clip, which any more trials got so many videos and at one less I think I like.
One thing I think is very hard in our profession, from the medical standpoint is, I think it’s very hard to take the deposition of one of your clients treating doctors. There’s a certain amount of distress, I think, between lawyers and doctors for one. Two, treating doctors are just random doctors that somehow got involved in this and sometimes they don’t want to be helpful. Sometimes they want to be helpful to their client, but they don’t really understand the legal lingo, so they don’t really know how to answer your question. I just find it kind of a difficult process, especially when you have a doctor that’s never been through it before.
What do you find to be one of the harder things to do?
Josh: I think that’s correct. To focus in on specifically what I think is hard about deposing a treating doctor, they speak a different language. When they are evaluating a case and providing an opinion, it’s not something that you or I can understand without having spent a significant amount of time doing research and really understanding the particular case and the particular medical terminology. They’re fluent in that. They do. That’s how it comes across in a deposition as well, which means that’s what a jury would ultimately be hearing. I find it challenging and enjoyable to take that complicated medical language and break it down in a way that helps turn the doctor into a teacher. It’s a lot of fun.
Justin Hill: It’s great when you do that. It’s also very difficult when you’ve done all the research, you’ve done everything, you’ve got all the papers, you got all the documents and the doctor just doesn’t agree. Either they haven’t caught up on the medicine or they’re from a different line of thinking. There’s just so much unpredictability about treating doctor depositions, I think.
I have never tried a case in Austin. I have had hearings up there, I have worked on cases up there. Austin’s a very different animal than San Antonio. You spent a significant amount of time with me in San Antonio and just in your life in San Antonio, I know you and your dad used to love to come down here. What are just your general perceptions on San Antonio and the people and how it differs from everywhere else you’ve been in Texas?
Josh: Well, the people here are incredibly friendly and warm and welcoming and open and nice and easy to get along with, which just makes it a great place to come. I’ve told you this time and time again, that I considered moving down here. My wife would move down here in a heartbeat. We love it down here, we spend a lot of time down here. We spend far more time in San Antonio than we spend in any other city in Texas, besides Austin.
It reminds me a lot of the way that Austin was when I was growing up 20 years ago. 20, 30 years ago. It still has that small-town feel. People are polite to one another. It’s a community. It has that community feeling. It doesn’t feel like a type of place where everybody is rushing to keep up with the Joneses. We’ve lost some of that in Austin.
Justin Hill: One thing I’ve noticed about the difference between the injury practice or personal injury bar in San Antonio and Austin is, in San Antonio, we are very congenial. We help each other. I could call one of the biggest billboard advertisers here in town and say, “What works for you?” What doesn’t work for you?” “How much money do you spend?” They would share with me. We’re competitors, but we share. We try to help each other. Austin’s kind of not like that. The bar up there is a little more competitive, which I’ve known because I’m friends with a bunch of you guys. I think the way you feel about our town is also the way our bar is, which is great.
Have y’all ever thought about opening offices outside of Austin and if so, what is your analysis? One of the things that I talk a lot about my firm is that we’re a San Antonio firm, we’re going to be a San Antonio firm and that’s all we’re going to be. It’s important to me. Y’all have a bigger operation, more lawyers, everything, bigger budgets, everything. Have you thought about opening offices outside Austin and how do you analyze that process of doing so?
Josh: Yes, we have thought about opening offices outside of Austin. We’ve thought about opening an office here in San Antonio and that would be the next logical place for us to come, if we were to leave Austin or if we were to expand outside of Austin. The analysis there is, we’re not done growing in Austin. We are a mission-driven law firm.
Justin Hill: I like that.
Josh: We still have quite a bit of ground that we want to cover in Austin and that’s not because of greed it’s because the mission and the vision of our law firm is to help displace maybe some of the other law firms who tend to be a little bit more predatory. We are focused on educating people so that they can make informed decisions. We feel like our firm brings something positive to an industry that, as you know, is historically tainted by people throwing around dollar bills and private jets, [chuckles] and things of that nature on–
Justin Hill: Millions of dollars from insurance companies saying that we’re that way.
Josh: Absolutely true. You kind of get it from both sides there. A long way of me for answering your question, our analysis of where we would go depends a lot on what would be the best opportunity for us to continue disseminating that message and being able to expand and move forward with that mission in a meaningful way. We’ve talked about it time and time again, that San Antonio is a great community and we think that this would be a good place for us to come.
Justin Hill: Well, you’re always welcome here, Josh.
Josh: [laughs] Thank you.
Justin Hill: All right. That’s going to do it for this episode. I wanted to have a little Q&A with Austin personal injury lawyer, Joshua Fogelman. Thank you for being here, Josh. We’re going to also throw something up on our YouTube channel, discussing business practices and young lawyer stuff and just generally, discussion about personal injury law, personal injury lawyers and sort of the practice of what we do on a day-to-day basis.
Josh: I appreciate you having me.
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