An Interview With Chip COSSÉ
Insight from Our New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney
Learn more about the unique perspective and approach to law of Attorney
Chip Cossé, your New Orleans personal injury lawyer. During the
interview, he discusses matters that are close to his heart, and reveals
how he takes on each case.
What made you choose a career in personal injury law?
"I had the opportunity to watch a jury trial when I was in college.
It involved a man that was badly injured because of the negligence of
a large corporation. At trial, the attorney for the corporation acted
with indifference to this man’s life-changing injuries. I was incensed
and decided at that moment that I would dedicate my career to fighting
for the rights of those who couldn’t fight for themselves to ensure
that my clients were made whole."
In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
"The law is a service profession, yet it is full of attorneys that
communicate the least effectively with their own clients . I focus on
being the opposite of that. Every client gets my cell phone number and
they know that they can call me any time. I take nearly all of my own
calls and I keep my clients abreast of all details. Plus, I don’t
sugar coat anything. My clients may not always like what I tell them,
but they know it’s the truth and they appreciate that. Plus, I make
sure every client knows they are valued by me-because they are-and it
doesn’t matter whether their case is worth $1,000 or $1,000,000;
they’re going to get my maximum effort and they know that."
Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
"I was approached by a police officer that had been shot multiple
times by a drug dealer. He had spoken with 4 prior attorneys, all of whom
turned down his case. After all, how would he recover from a drug dealer?
Yet, I absolutely had to help this man and his family. He would never
work again. What really stood out was the fact that it took in inordinate
amount of time for his fellow officers to find him from the time the call
for back up was made. I was told that the call for back up went to the
wrong district. I spent a lot of time studying his police radio and something
just didn’t seem right.
Plus, the letters 'KCFD' were engraved on the radio and I didn’t
know what that stood for. The design of the radio itself made me conclude
that perhaps this wasn’t a combat-ready radio of the type that would
be used by a police department. I decided that I had enough to file suit
against the radio manufacturer and conduct discovery. During that process,
I learned that not only was it not a combat-ready radio for policy use,
but it was also returned by the Kansas City Fire Department (“KCFD”)
as being defective and then, unbeknownst to the police department, sold
as a new radio system. The radio manufacturer settled for nearly $2,000,000
and $3,500 per month for life."
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
"I don’t leave any stone unturned. I take the necessary depositions
and conduct extensive discovery. I evaluate all of my medicals to make
sure I only present those damages which I can prove are causally related
to my client’s accident. Today’s juries are very savvy and
have been influenced by big business interests to believe that no one
is truly injured. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that my client
has the necessary integrity in the eyes in the jury. Plus, it’s
essential to know the tendencies of your judge and opposing counsel. I’ll
never be outworked."
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
"Depending on the client, I wear many hats. In addition to being a
legal adviser, I am a friend, a psychologist, a provider or anything else
that my client needs. When someone’s life is irrevocably altered
by an injury, it is naive to believe that you will
just be their attorney-not if you want to make a difference."
How does your experience in the personal injury field benefit your clients?
"They know I have the experience, fortitude and financing to get them
the compensation they deserve."
What types of personal injury claims do you specifically handle?
"We handle a wide variety of personal injury claims, including car
wrecks and other types of injuries. We also focus our practice on catastrophic
injuries that include traumatic brain injuries and injuries that require
the analysis of lost wages and long-term medical care. Sadly, many attorneys
don’t consider this aspect of litigation because it is too costly
or time consuming.
I consider it too costly
NOT to investigate this on behalf of my clients. After all, if their life has
been forever changed, they
MUST receive the necessary compensation for the rest of their life. I consider
it a duty to the community to accomplish this goal. If I fail, my client
may well become a burden to taxpayers because they will have to rely on
In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
"Knowing that on a daily basis, I have helped at least one fellow
citizen. It’s very empowering and humbling."
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
"The types of insurance to have to best protect themselves."
What is your educational history and what educational and professional
requirements were necessary to become a lawyer?
"I attended a private secondary school and was a history major in
college. I chose that major because so much of the law is based on the
historical evolution of nations. Additionally, history majors read and
write a lot and I felt that was a good background not only for law school
but the practice of law itself."
Have you ever had any ethical problems which you have encountered in your
career? If yes, how did you resolve such problems? If no, what steps do
you take to avoid ethical issues?
"Lawyers are constantly faced with ethical dilemmas and the ramifications
of doing something unethical-even accidentally- is more harsh than any
other profession. In a way, that’s a huge compliment to what we
do. Because we are so revered and can wield so much power professionally,
it comes with tremendous personal responsibility to use that power for
the right purposes. Some of the common ethical dilemmas that I’ve
faced usually involve a conflict of interest, or doing something that
favors one client to the detriment of another.
When I am confronted by this, I always err on the side of caution and full
disclosure. First, I consult the rules of professional responsibility
to be my guide; then, I advise my clients of the ethical dilemma and give
them the opportunity to seek outside counsel. This helps to avoid an ethical
problem in advance. If I am unsure of the best way of handling the issue,
I request an advisory opinion from the Bar Association. That way, I have
a pronouncement from my governing body to rely upon."
What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
"Best - I get to make a great living helping others. Every day I know I’ve
helped at least one person-a wonderful feeling, indeed!
Worst - the stress that comes with it. It’s a heavy burden when another
person’s well-being is reliant upon your skills, work ethic, and
determination. It’s not something you leave behind when you leave
the office. If you care, you live it. That can be dangerous if you want
to be a good family person because you have to be very careful to balance
all of it. Many lawyers cannot.
Divorce, substance abuse and depression run rampant in this profession.
Having a loving and understanding spouse is essential but they cannot
by any means be too passive. Lawyers by their very nature are aggressive
and self-assured. Therefore, the spouse of a lawyer needs to know when
to comply and when to fight back. My wife is fantastic with that and I
am so thankful that she recognizes this."
Do you prefer to work in a team or on your own? Who do you rely on for
support in your office and why?
"No successful lawyer can do it on his or her own. Having a competent
support staff is essential. I rely most heavily on my secretary and paralegal.
Sometimes, those are the same person. The reason is that there are so
many facets to lawyering that if you try to do it all, you won’t
be good at any of it. Learning where and how to delegate is essential.
Our staff understands that every person makes an impression on our clients.
How comfortable they feel and the attention that is given them is essential
to our success. Particularly, my paralegal makes it a point to know as
much about my clients and cases as I do. If I cannot speak with a client
because I am in a deposition or court, she can answer any of the clients
needs so that at all times they are catered to accordingly."