Sunday, November 20, 2005

Writing a Paper: Interview Someone

For almost any topic you can find someone with an interesting angle. I interviewed a lawyer friend who does personal injury claims on contingency for a paper on professional responsibility and contingency fees. He gave me great quotes. Things I wouldn't have said so clearly and more credible from a lawyer with ten years experience. Best example:

"Suppose," I asked, "that you had a client come in with an injury that you knew you could prove liability and damages for costs of ten thousand dollars, and the damages are going to amount to half a million dollars. What stops you from charging a twenty per cent contingency fee?" He replied, "That's a good law school question because it's something that would never occur." I laughed and he went on to say, "we're subject to the forces of the marketplace. Someone with a scenario like that should be shopping around." I asked him if the personal injury litigation field in Ottawa truly is a competitive marketplace. "Sure," he said, "just look at the Yellow Pages and the size of the ads."
He also gave me references I'd missed in my Quicklaw searches.

Some of the benefits:

  • You might get added energy for the topic.
  • The interview subject often will point you to resource material. (One person I interviewed gave me no useful quotes, and didn't directly answer any of my questions, but she emailed me five articles that were all on topic and hadn't shown up in my literature searches.)
  • You will actually be contributing original data to the field of study.
  • Your profs will eat it up.
p.s. I looked in the Yellow Pages, counted the ads, noted their sizes, and used the information in my paper. Material in an academic paper doesn't have to come from other academic papers. p.p.s. I got an excellent mark on the paper.

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