Interview with John Fisher
John Fisher is a medical malpractice attorney practicing at John H. Fisher, P.C. in upstate New York. Countless attorneys will tell you that John Fisher’s work has impacted their lives. Through the Mastermind Experience, as well as his books (Power of a System & The Law Firm of Your Dreams), his newsletters, and his site http://ultimateinjurylaw.com, which give away his “secret sauce” for how to run a successful law practice, John’s influence reaches far and wide.
Those who have worked with him have went on to establish dominant law practices, write successful books, and launch widely heard podcasts. John pours his heart and soul into improving his community, spending time with his family, and giving back to his fellow lawyers. His presence and influence are something we are all better off for.
What was your most trying/difficult case?
During my last trial, I felt as though things were going as best as you can expect. I was representing a four-year-old boy who suffered a significant brain injury. I thought everything went perfectly: I managed to preclude all of the defendant’s experts and the defendant even admitted during his testimony that his actions fell below the standard of the care. But the jury still rendered a defense verdict. To this day, I am not sure why we lost this case, because I felt very good about my preparation. The lesson here is that sometimes you don’t know why you lose, even if you put your best efforts in and things go right. I know this was in a very conservative venue and these cases are difficult regardless. But this was a very tough pill to swallow because I wanted justice for this four-year-old boy.
The silver lining of this story was what happened after trial. I noticed the mother of the child sobbing while we were walking out, so I went up to her and tried to console her. She told me that she wasn’t upset not for herself, but for me. She noticed the hard work and effort and all of the expense I put into the case. So, while the loss was and is still very difficult, it was also very rewarding to hear that.
What sort of fulfillment do you get from being a lawyer?
“Simply put, making a profound impact in the life of a severely disabled person and in the community.”
Early in my career I represented a trucker in South Carolina who was horribly brain damaged. The case was extremely challenging and very involved. We spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars on this case and I dedicated a substantial amount of time in the case. Just before trial, we did settle (but not for enough in my opinion). I was basically living with my client by this point — doing everything I could to “walk a mile in his moccasins.” When we put the settlement on the record, I had a chance to really talk to the client— who was blind and had severe memory issues because of his injuries. Although I wasn’t satisfied with the settlement, he gave me a hug and told me he loved me. I am motivated by making this profound difference and this is why I practice law.
Also, I can point to specific things that we’ve done to make our communities a safer place. Because of three lawsuits I brought early in my career, we forced railroads to change their practices. In this specific case, we had one of the most dangerous grade crossings in the State of New York that had led to clients’ injuries. After our lawsuits, the crossing was changed and became the safest in the whole state. People in the public don’t see this, but the reality is that we, as trial lawyers, do everything we can to improve the quality and lives of our clients and communities.
What other impacts does your legal work have on the community?
“We seek to improve the medical care for patients in the future.”
This is one of the core values of our firm. For this reason, we never agree to confidentiality. If we ever receive settlement documents with confidentiality included, our staff knows right away the settlement documents aren’t correct and they will, on their own, inform the other firm that we don’t agree to confidentiality. Confidentiality permits doctors to continue engaging in harmful acts because their misdeeds are never brought to light. We never, ever agree to them.
How important is it to maintain professional relationships with other lawyers?
Relationships are incredibly important. In fact, our firm receives almost all of our work from lawyer referrals. Hence, our relationships with referring lawyers is critical to our success. We cultivate lawyer relationships with a monthly print newsletter, weekly email newsletter, books (The Power of a System and The Law Firm of Your Dreams), and public speaking engagements for lawyer organizations.
Also, I’ve grown a number of relationships through the Mastermind Experience, which includes lawyers from all around the country who meet regularly to discuss challenges they’re facing personally and professionally. My favorite part of developing these relationships, especially through the Mastermind Experience, is watching new lawyers grow. I’ve watched several lawyers develop their personal lives and businesses to new heights. I am so grateful for this experience.
What’s your favorite way to unwind after a long day at the office?
I love reading. I have a ton of books and may be in the middle of reading 3-4 books at any time. My favorite all-time book is Dale Carnegie’s 1937 classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I’ve applied the lessons of this book in every aspect of my daily life. For example, if I go into a room and I don’t know anyone I walk up to a stranger and ask them questions. I don’t talk about myself. I try to spend all of my time learning about the person I’m talking to. Before a call or a meeting with a lawyer, I learn about him/her. I always try find out what makes the other person tick and then try to talk with the person about his/her interests. When you make the conversation about the other person, it will take you to great places and build fantastic relationships.
How do you balance time with your family during trial?
I set aside 3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays to spend with my wife and kids (20-year-old triplets) during trial. I like to go hiking with my daughter, Lily, and our managing puppy, Patch McAdams, Esq. (specializing in canine jurisprudence).
We are grateful for John’s time in answering these questions. John’s organization of choice is
Living Resources in Upstate New York which provides educational, residential, and employment opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities. John’s appreciation and passion for this program are from his firsthand experience as his son, Alek, attended the “College Experience,” a two year program at St. Rose College in Albany, NY, where he attended class with other students with developmental disabilities. Thanks again to John!
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