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Cloutier Law Offices Core Principles

Cloutier Law Offices, P.C. was created by Dave Cloutier in 2004. Prior to creating the Firm, Dave spent his entire career handling personal injury cases for injured people at a leading firm here in South Bend. He was very happy at the other firm and enjoyed working with the people there. But he also wanted to create a new firm with some new approaches to handling personal injury cases. Some of these approaches are summarized in Cloutier Law Office’s Core Principles discussed below.

1. We Employ a Client-Service Approach

At Cloutier Law Offices, we believe too many personal injury firms do not take a customer-based, service-oriented approach to handling personal injury cases. We believe that such an approach is essential, and it is our first core principle. We try to implement this in many ways, including the Client Bill of Rights and Client’s Guide to Your Personal Injury Case we give all of our clients, and other procedures we follow. In short, we believe your case is yours, not ours, and that we are like employees working for you as the employer. We also believe, while being involved in a personal injury case is never easy, we can, should, and will do what we can to make the process as pleasant as possible. (This website includes a Client Only section with important documents and resources for our clients only.)

We believe our clients have the right to be kept informed and to be treated with dignity and compassion in full recognition of the difficulties people experience when they are injured or have lost loved ones. We believe our clients have the right to have the legal and other issues involved in their cases fully explained so they can make informed decisions. We always grant to our clients a face-to-face meeting with an attorney at their request to discuss any matter related to their cases.

Perhaps most importantly, we fully believe and acknowledge that each client has the right to make the important decisions about the prosecution and settlement of his or her case and to be given adequate information and advice to assist in making those decisions.

2. We Focus on Trial

Most personal injury cases do not end up going to trial. However, we believe strongly that the only proper way to handle each case is to assume it, in fact, will go to trial, and this is our second core principle. Paradoxically, preparing for and thinking about the trial from the beginning of the case is what makes prompt and fair settlements more likely. A good analogy to illustrate the point is to think of a nation which has been wronged by another nation. The wronged nation would prefer to get the opponent to agree to its terms. But trying to negotiate with the other nation from a position of weakness amounts merely to begging, and rarely works. Instead, the wise nation appoints a general to raise an army and prepare for battle. If the general thinks about and prepares the army well, usually the other nation will see that overwhelming force is arrayed against it, and it will prefer to negotiate and agree to the terms the nation proposes. If that does not work, and a battle is necessary, the nation with the experienced general and well-prepared army stands a better chance of prevailing. A personal injury case is very similar. The best way to achieve a prompt and fair settlement is to demonstrate to the other side that you and your lawyer and paralegals are prepared to go to trial and are ready to make a convincing case to a jury. Doing that often convinces the other side that it is better to settle the case than to risk a bad result at trial. Of course, if a trial is still necessary, this approach has the advantage of making sure that we will be ready for it.

3. We Developed and Use our own Case Management System called CaseMaster © 2016, 2004

A third core principle of Cloutier Law Offices is to correctly and carefully advance cases through the process using our proactive case management system. Personal injury cases do not proceed on their own; they have to be “pushed” along. If an injured person’s attorney simply waits for things to happen, nothing good will happen, and the case will go on and on for years. Personal injury cases take long enough even when pushed, so it is very important that your case be handled by using a thorough, carefully designed Case Management System. In fact, there are dozens of companies who sell such systems (usually they involve a software program), and many personal injury firms use one of these commercial products. At Cloutier Law Offices, we believe these commercial products are inadequate. So we created our own very detailed system that we believe is superior to commercially available products. Our proprietary Case Management System (which is called CaseMaster © 2016,2004) is basically a timeline-driven series of detailed checklists and other tools. It allows us to move your case along in a logical, step-by-step method, to help ensure both thoroughness and speed. CaseMaster ©2016, 2004 is complex and involves over two thousand tasks and items for each case, and over seven thousand documents and other tools linked to the system. It is constantly revised, improved, and updated to keep up with changes in the law and technology.

4. We are a Referral-Based Practice, not “Advertising-Based”
 
A fourth core principle of Cloutier Law Offices is our approach to “marketing” and obtaining new clients. As you have no doubt seen, many personal injury firms are well known for extensive television and other advertising. An ad or a website does not tell you what you need to know to make the best choice for your representation. At Cloutier Law Offices, we do very little (almost no) media advertising. We do not need to. Instead, the majority of our clients come to us because they are referred by former or current clients, physicians, other attorneys, and others. We think this means something very important to our clients: the most important “advertising” for us is making each client very satisfied with our representation. We try to do that in every case.

Finally, we believe in and have dedicated our careers to the principles in the Indiana Oath of Attorneys and the Indiana Bill of Rights: 

State of Indiana Oath of Attorney

I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR or affirm that: I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana; I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers; I will not counsel or maintain any action, proceeding, or defense which shall appear to me to be unjust ... I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me, such means only as are consistent with truth, and never seek to mislead the court or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law; I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client at every peril to myself; I will abstain from offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged; I will not encourage either the commencement or the continuance of any action or proceeding from any motive of passion or interest; I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed; so help me God.
 
Sworn and Subscribed this 8th Day of May, 1996 by David L. Cloutier Jr. upon admission to the Bar of Indiana.

Indiana Constitution, Bill of Rights, Section 12
All courts shall be open; and every person, for injury done to him in his person, property, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law. Justice shall be administered freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; speedily, and without delay.

Indiana Constitution, Bill of Rights, Section 20
In all civil cases, the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
 
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Helpful Resources

Indiana - Judicial
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St. Joseph County Bar Association
stjoebar.org
 



Indiana E-File

St. Joseph County courts have now adopted electronic filing.  Click here to read more about Indiana E-file.
 

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St. Joseph County, Indiana: South Bend | Mishawaka | Indian Village | Lakeville | New Carlisle | North Liberty | Osceola | Roseland | Walkerton | Georgetown | Granger | Gulivoire Park | Notre Dame | and all St. Joseph County Townships. Elkhart County, Indiana: Elkhart | Goshen | Nappanee | Bristol | Dunlap | Middlebury | Jimtown | Millersburg | New Paris | Simonton Lake | Wakarusa. Marshall County, Indiana: Plymouth | Argos | Bourbon | Bremen | Culver | La Paz | Koontz Lake. Starke County, Indiana: Knox | North Judson | Koontz Lake | Bass Lake | Hamlet. LaPorte County, Indiana: Michigan City | LaPorte | Westville | Trail Creek | Kingsford Heights | Long Beach | Michiana Shores | Trail Creek | Wanatah | Fish Lake. Kosciusko County, Indiana: Warsaw | Syracuse | Milford | North Webster | Leesburg | Etna Green | Silver Lake | Winona Lake. Fulton County, Indiana: Rochester | Fulton | Delong | Akron | Kewanna | Leiters Ford. Pulaski County, Indiana: Winamac | Francesville | Medaryville | Monterey. Jasper County, Indiana: Rensselaer | De Motte | Roselawn | Remington | Wheatfield. Porter County, Indiana: Portage | Valparaiso | Chesterton | Porter | Hebron | Kouts | Burns Harbor | Beverly Shores | Ogden Dunes.