For nearly 18 years, it has been a part of my job responsibilities as Firm Administrator to conduct the settlement disbursements for our clients. Over the years, I have probably set across the conference room table of over 3,000 clients and explained the ins and outs of the final stage of their case. It has been a part of my job that sometimes I loved; sometimes I dreaded; and many times taught me lessons in life that I never expected.
The average lifespan of a case in our office is two years. Understand that some cases are resolved much faster and some cases are with us for years and years. Because of this, our clients became part of our lives and in many aspects, part of our families. Our attorneys and our staff spend countless hours on the phone with our clients discussing their case as well as listening to the trials and tribulations of their lives as a result of whatever tragedy brought them to our firm. We always try to remember that our clients do not only see us as their lawyers, but they see us as that person that is fighting to right the wrong that occurred to them or their loved one.
So when that day finally arrives that a settlement is reached and all the complicated matters of subrogation and outstanding medical bills and Medicare set-asides are resolved, it is time to hand that settlement check over to our clients and conclude a relationship that many times is difficult to end. I can honestly say that in all my many disbursement conferences, our clients have been gracious and thankful for the job we have done for them. Handing them that check not only means they can pay their mortgages again or they finally pay off their medical bills – it also means they can move on with their lives and put a dark chapter behind them. I see the relief on their faces and it makes me smile.
There are also those bitter-sweet moments when you are handing a check to that client whose loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence and you know that check will never make the pain go away. I will never forget my final meeting with my client whose 15 year old daughter was killed in an automobile accident. We were able to make a significant recovery for her. However; for my client, taking that money was part of a process of letting her daughter go. We both sat in that conference room for two hours and did nothing but cried and mourned the loss of her precious child. That client and my relationship with that client throughout her case taught me that life can be so unfair. It is the goal at our firm to see that our clients are compensated for unfair situations that have occurred to them. While we achieve that goal every single day – there are those days when I realize that the relationships I have with my clients are simply about making their lives happier. And in return for that, I have a sense of gratitude they will never know.