The following is an interview conducted with trial lawyer Tom D'Amore, a contributing author to the Trial Guides / AAJ two volume set The Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit, 4th Edition. The book set contains content from over 60 leading lawyers including Gerry Spence, Bill Barton, Lisa Blue, Frank Branson, Virginia Buchanan, Michael Burg, Dr. Arthur Croft, Aaron DeShaw, Joe Fried, Robert Habush, Robert Hirschhorn, Mark Lanier, Judith Livingston, Patrick Malone, Randi McGinn, Peter Perlman, David Wenner and many more. In this interview, Tom provides advice for both new and experienced plaintiff lawyers.
Tom D'Amore discusses his chapter on Motor Vehicle Incident Reconstruction
Trial Guides: What do you hope readers get out of your chapter of the book?
Tom D’Amore: I think the most important thing that I hope readers get out of the book is that it’s while the math and the physics and the speed of momentum and the velocity are all critical, and those math equations are important, it’s in my opinion, much more important visually to represent what your reconstructionists are telling you. To use them to make a rock solid presentation of what happened in this particular incident. And if you can do that in your cases, actually show the jury to make them understand what happened in the incident, you are 99% of the way there.
Trial Guides: What do you think about the concept of Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in terms of bringing over fifty lawyers together and giving those resources to maybe young lawyers?
Tom D’Amore: I think that is the of Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit does just what you said. It brings fifty different lawyers to the table and gives different perspectives from all of those different top, some of the top trial lawyers in the country. And so, I think the concept is a good one and it may be hard to get through all of those books, but I would recommend any new lawyer or even a lawyer who’s been practicing for years and years to read through that stuff. Refresh your knowledge and find out what some of the best trial lawyers in the country are doing and you can do that in this book.
Tom D'Amore on Trial Guides
Trial Guides: Are there any particular books that you’ve read during the course of your career that have been instrumental in helping you do a better job for your clients?
Tom D’Amore: Yes, all the books that I get from Trial Guides. The ones that really come into mind David Ball on Damages, Rick Friedman’s Rules of the Road, Rick Friedman’s Polarizing the Case. Those are books that in every single trial that I have I pull those out again, go through them, and use their format as much as possible. While we can’t follow that format perfectly, it just provides a great outline for me and structure for how I want to setup my case. And those guys have been through so many cases, David Ball in terms of trial consulting has seen just about everything. Rick Friedman with all of the tremendous cases he’s done and the experience he has, I just think for the trial lawyer out there in the field if you are not using those resources, I think you are putting yourself at a big disadvantage.
Becoming a Trial Lawyer
Trial Guides: How did you get started as a trial lawyer?
Tom D’Amore: Well, I got started as a trial lawyer after going to work as a CPA for a couple of years. I always wanted to be a lawyer, but some accounting professors convinced me it might be a good idea to go get a job with a big eight CPA firm, work for a couple of years and decide what you want to do. But my desire to be a lawyer and eventually a trial lawyer was so great that I worked for a CPA firm for two years and a day, got certified as a CPA, and then headed off to law school. Quite frankly, one of the main reasons that I became a trial lawyer, in addition to being a liberal guy and not being that fond of insurance companies, was that I did not want to work as an hourly lawyer for the rest of my life. I had gotten the hourly concept working for a CPA firm. When I came across a couple of personal injury cases and represented clients that really needed help and couldn’t afford to pay an attorney, I just really loved this concept, the contingency fee concept where I have to work and I have to try and win my case and if I don’t, then I don’t get paid anything, no matter how much money I put into it I don’t get paid. But the idea that if I’m successful then I’ll get paid at the end of the day as opposed to billing someone on an hourly basis, that was a big driver for me. That’s just, I love going to work, I’m motivated to work, and I think it has a lot to do with our system and helping people.
Trial Guides: Is there anything about doing trials that speaks to you as a person?
Tom D’Amore: Yes, I enjoy doing trials because it gets me out in front of people, it gets me talking to people. I’ve got to be honest; it was very difficult doing trials initially. Just the nerves and all of those things. Doing trial work not only helped me in interacting with people but it made it more comfortable for me. And it doesn’t just apply to the trial concept, it applies with every facet of your life. And so, if I did not get that training to be a trial lawyer, I think I’d be much more of a hermit, and I’m kind of a shy guy anyway, but trial work has brought me out a little bit in terms of interacting with people.
Tom D'Amore on the importance of trial lawyers giving back to their communities
Trial Guides: I know that you do a lot of community service, including things like Good Deeds, End Distracted Driving, and Safe Kids Oregon. Can you tell us about your community involvement with why you do those things as a lawyer?
Tom D’Amore: Well as a lawyer and as a person, we owe that duty to help out others. I was a kid that didn’t have very much money, made my way through school on grants and student loans because my family couldn’t afford to pay for school. I just think that we as trial lawyers, as a trial lawyer community, we are very lucky. We are in a wonderful profession, we get to help people every day, and we get paid fairly well for it. We also have to take that extra effort to do the community service things because there is just so much need out there and we have the skills as trial lawyers that a lot of folks don’t have. And so the fulfillment that I get from doing community service is probably the biggest impact but it’s also the fact that we really need to do those things as trial lawyers and be grateful for what we’ve got and give back.