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    In this episode of Settlement Nation we chat with Bethany Schneider, a trial attorney and the founder of Schneider Injury Law.

    We discuss what it was like branching out on her own, after years trying high-stakes personal injury and wrongful death cases for huge corporations. We also talk about the importance of marketing as an attorney and how she has leveraged platforms to build her brand awareness, the challenges she faces as a female in this industry, as well as breaking down her $5.5M jury verdict case from 2019, where she obtained full justice for her client after they suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury.

    Courtney Barber:
    Welcome to another episode of Settlement Nation. I am Courtney Barber and I'm joined today by my co-host Chris Bua, as well as Bethany Schneider a trial attorney and the founder of Schneider Injury Law out of Atlanta. Now Bethany founded her practice in 2018, after many years of trying high stakes, personal injury and wrongful death cases for huge corporations since she opened her own firm, Bethany has consistently been named as a Super Lawyers Rising Star and has obtained nearly $13 million in compensation for her clients. So welcome Bethany.

    Bethany Schneider:
    Thank you.

    Courtney Barber:
    We are super happy to have you today. And something that excites me is having female trial attorneys on Settlement Nation because we always have a lot of males, but I love to promote the females in this very small industry. So we really appreciate you coming on and we can't wait to hear more about you.

    Courtney Barber:
    Starting with that, I would love to know the background of our guests and it is such an interesting field that you've gone into, but what sort of prompted you to think as a child or in high school? "I want to be a attorney and then I want to be a trial attorney."

    Bethany Schneider:
    Well, growing up, I thought I would be a pediatrician or a veterinarian. Then I got to high school and started having science classes, like physics and everything, and was complaining to my mom one day. And, as all moms, do they know the best for you, right? So she said to me, I think when I was in ninth grade, well, you're not very good at math or science. Why are you going to be, what was the medical profession? You're really good at reading and arguing. So I think you should be a lawyer. And from that day on, I just thought, okay, I'm going to be a lawyer and kind of went with it. I mean, she was right. This is like the perfect field for me. I love everything about being a trial lawyer and so I've really enjoyed it.

    Chris Bua:
    That's great. What about your background when you were at a law firm that was really large? Why don't you give the name of that and then speak a little bit about what it was like working in that environment?

    Bethany Schneider:
    Sure. I was really lucky to find a job out of law school at King and Spalding, which I think it's the biggest law firm in Atlanta. It is an international firm, but I was in the tobacco litigation group and when I started this tobacco litigation in Florida called the Ingle Project, the litigation was just heating up. So I kind of got in on the front end of that and was able to get a ton of trial experience that is very atypical for big law firms. So I feel very lucky because I was able to be at a big law firm. I was surrounded by some of the most talented trial lawyers in the country while also myself getting a ton of trial experience, litigation experience, as a fourth year I started getting in the courtroom myself. I went to 26 trials during the course of that time was in the courtroom, 11 of those deposed, hundreds of witnesses, including expert witnesses. And so just some fantastic training and experience, in a big law firm too, which is just very atypical.

    Chris Bua:
    So we have a lot of younger attorneys that listen to Settlement Nation. So I think they'd be interested to learn when you went out on your own in 2018, what were some of the challenges that you faced when you started off doing your own practice on your own?

    Bethany Schneider:
    Well, there were a lot, I mean, especially coming from big law, you have so many resources at big law firms that then, you come and start your own practice. My biggest challenge was figuring out certified mail. I'm like, how do you do this? I haven't figured it out. But, it was interesting because the tobacco lawyer at King and Spalding in Florida, I was not really doing any insurance. I didn't deal with insurance companies at all because R.J. Reynolds is self-insured. I also had really only practiced in Florida. So I had never really practiced in Georgia. So I was not only having to learn how to kind of be on the other side of things, but I was having to learn Georgia law as well as really how to be a personal injury lawyer.

    Bethany Schneider:
    But I think that, the plaintiff's bar is just unlike any other, especially here in Georgia and Atlanta, they're super close knit and Georgia Trial Lawyers Association puts out so many, good educational programs that I was really able to depend on my other plaintiff's lawyers in town to really help me get up to speed on being a plaintiff's lawyer and having my own practice. And there were definitely some difficult lessons learned along the way. Sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn, but it's been a very enjoyable experience overall.

    Chris Bua:
    So I would say one of the biggest aspects of running your own practice is marketing and getting the word out about your firm and I would say that you do an excellent job because I see you on LinkedIn every day. We're not even connected, but you are intertwined with so many people within the legal and settlement industry that your content makes it to all corners. So I wanted to learn more about your strategy, marketing, your services, your firm, and using those platforms for brand awareness of Schneider Injury Law.

    Bethany Schneider:
    Well, thank you for that. That's good to know. It is something I feel like I've struggled with personally, but it has been a big priority for me, obviously having my own firm, you have to kind of keep fresh material all the time. I mean, I started out where before I even announced my own firm every day, you kind of have a LinkedIn... You have a cap number of people you can invite on a daily basis. And every day I would just kind of go down the list of people you may know and invite the maximum amount of people. So then, now I've gotten a ton of connections and I mean, they're just a lot of them are just random, but you never know the connections that you can make.

    Bethany Schneider:
    I kind of always shied away from Instagram just because, I mean, I'm a millennial, but not really, I don't feel that confident and knowing what's cool and stuff to post on Instagram, but I realized that that's definitely a platform you have to be on to be relevant in kind of this world. And so I've been making a bigger push to have posts on a regular basis. I just found a woman who started her own company doing videos. And so we've been at least trying to put out one video a week, and I think I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on that. But I mean, the lesson I've learned is just keep doing it. Being consistent about posting, I think is the most important thing and not to be afraid to post a selfie.

    Courtney Barber:
    Are we going to see any TikTok videos from you coming up or is that, is that still in the, "I'm not sure." Category?

    Bethany Schneider:
    I'm not even on TikTok. So I don't, I don't think so. You know, and I mean, it's interesting, right? Because as a female, in this profession, you always have that challenge, I think, to maintain your professionalism. And so that's something that I've been trying to be really aware of as I do more of a push on social media is you want to be taken seriously. And it's so easy as a female to, I feel like do something that all of a sudden you're not taken seriously. And so that's kind of always something I'm thinking about whatever I'm doing in marketing.

    Courtney Barber:
    And that leads really fantastically into this next section that I wanted to cover with you, which were challenges that you might have faced as a female, a trial attorney. And this is two parts. I sort of want to know what challenges you've faced, but then also I want to know what advantages you've had being a female in such a small group. It's a very powerful group, but it's quite a small group of attorneys that are doing plaintiff work.

    Bethany Schneider:
    I mean, I think that the challenges have been that I... Unfortunately I haven't really had many role models, I mean the role models I've had and the mentors I've had have been men. And so in trying to figure out okay, how to be a persuasive, powerful female trial attorney has been something that's been a struggle over the years for me, because finding your voice, finding your persona, you face the challenge of, "I don't want to be weak." But on the other hand, you don't want to be seen as, "I'm an angry female." Or something either.

    Bethany Schneider:
    I definitely got critiques coming up as being too aggressive, things were said to me, I don't think would ever have been said to a man, especially because it was the same things that I saw men doing. And so now since I've been on my own I've just embraced who I am, which kind of goes along with my tagline, which is compassionate counselor and tough advocate. And I feel like as a female I'm, I sell myself to my clients and look, I mean you're struggling with the toughest time of your life. Don't you want somebody that has compassion and empathy and will take the time to talk with you and guide you and, and really kind of nurture you along through this process.

    Bethany Schneider:
    And I think as females in general, we have more emotional intelligence. Sometimes I think that that is an advantage to me for me, but then also its compassionate counselor, tough advocate and, and I've just kind of embraced that sometimes I'm going to be very aggressive and if I'm known as "Oh, that aggressive female trial lawyer" in my community. Well, so be it, I'd rather be known as that than some kind of pushover. So sometimes I'm like, "Well, it's good that they, kind of wince when they see that I'm on the case."

    Courtney Barber:
    Exactly.

    Chris Bua:
    So we love to talk about results here at Settlement Nation. And when I was looking at your website, one case stood out to me that I'd love for you to talk about, which was a verdict from 2019, where you got $5.5 million. If you could just talk a little bit about how you prep for that trial a little bit about how the trial unfolded any memorable moments or pieces of advice that you could take away from that case to share with our audience.

    Bethany Schneider:
    Sure. That was a traumatic brain injury trial. It was my second ever trial as a plaintiff's attorney. I had had my first trial as a plaintiff's attorney the week before, small car wreck case. So it was very early on for me in trying to figure out, how to be a plaintiff's attorney, but it involved a pipe falling off a couple of stories, high building and hitting my client in the head. So, in prepping for the trial, I was very familiar with trial prep because as I had said before, I mean, I went to 20 plus trials when I was doing the tobacco litigation and all of that involved a lot of trial prep and getting ready. And I think that prep is key, so you can never be over-prepared. So, a few weeks before trial, I already had all my outlines done, my PowerPoints for my opening, and then closing and just kind of knowing what you're going to do and being thoroughly prepared for whatever could come up is so important.

    Bethany Schneider:
    And, I think we really did out prepare the other side because I don't think they were as prepared as us. So when we get to trial, the biggest challenge to that case and being a traumatic brain injury was that there was a three-year, three month, six day gap between when the injury occurred. And the first time there was a diagnosis of a concussion and a traumatic brain injury. Our client had had a broken nose as well. So he had some treatment for that, but he had been having headaches and some cognitive issues for a few years before he ever went to the doctor. So, that case, I really started learning and honing my skills and what I have now termed embracing and weaponizing the defense's favorite facts. And so, I studied Keith Mitnik a lot and he talks a lot about defense's favorite facts and his book is Don't Eat the Bruises.

    Bethany Schneider:
    And, this gap in that trial was... The defense just came in and thought, Oh, well, we've got this in the bag. I mean, we're just going to continue to put this, calendar up there and show, "Hey, he never reported these things until almost three and a half years later, didn't go to the doctor for three and a half years." But we were prepared and had thought through that. I mean, the biggest thing you need to do in preparing for trial is, What are the defense's favorite facts? What are your big biggest weaknesses? And how can I either, embrace those or actually weaponize those and turn them around on the other side. And so our whole trial, we just spent building and filling in that gap with testimony from the treaters, and family members and friends about all of the things that he was experiencing.

    Bethany Schneider:
    So in our closing, we use the defense's timeline that they tried to show, "Oh, look at this big gap." And we were able to place all the testimony on there to show there was really no gap. Actually the biggest testament to this and how you can really weaponize some of the defense's favorite facts against the defense is that in our punitive... We got a punitive verdict as well. And the punitive verdict was $500,336 and we were able to talk to the jurors afterwards. And they were like, "Did you get that number? Did you get that? Did you get that?" And we were like, "No, what's this $336?" And they were like "for three years, three months, six days." So they had so hated the defense for making this a big issue, because we were able to show it wasn't that they actually put that number in the punitive amount.

    Courtney Barber:
    That's super fascinating. And we'll definitely put that in the show notes about the defense's favorite facts in Keith Mitnick's book, because that we really enjoy. And I think a lot of our listeners to getting these little details and things and words of wisdom from, I guess, so thank you for sharing that with us, cause I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people that go and buy that book and then really sort of hone down that skill in their own trials. But something that we like to talk about with our guests, you know, we've got trial lawyers that have ranged from being in their own practice for a couple of years to 20 years plus is that they all have mentors that they like to go to, or people in the industry that they look up to and get training from, or have calls with. Do you have a specific person or group of people that you look up to as mentors or that you go to for advice in your career Bethany?

    Bethany Schneider:
    Right now I think that the biggest people that I rely on are just my peers. I mean, I'm on a couple different listservs. I also have a group that we try to meet once a month. And just kind of, instead of a focus group with jurors, we do focus group our cases and issues with each other. And like I had said before, I think the plaintiff's bar is just so great at that. And being so open and willing to share advice and willing to share work product and things. So I feel like on a daily basis, I can pick up the phone and call somebody and say, "Hey, what do you think about this case? Or what do you think about, this case? Or what do you think about this issue?" And our GTLA listserv is great too, because you can ask a question on that and get a million answers, in a few minutes.

    Bethany Schneider:
    Last week, I had a deposition of a billing expert, a type of expert I've never had before, who was going to testify to the medical bills was unreasonable. And so I, you know, put it out something on the listserv and, you know, within probably an hour I had gotten probably 15 responses and it helped me prepare for the deposition the next day. And, you know, I try to pass on and put out as much information as I can and work product as I can on the listserv as well.

    Chris Bua:
    That's great. So Bethany, our last question, which is when we ask all of our guests is what do you know now that you wish you knew 5 or 10 years ago when you were an attorney?

    Bethany Schneider:
    So thinking about this, I think one of the things that I kind of wish I knew is that your practice as a lawyer is going to be ever evolving and that's okay. I think when we get out of law school or when we're a young lawyer, we think, oh, we have to have it all figured out. "What kind of lawyer are we going to be? What kind of practice are we going to have? We need a specialty. Okay, what are we going to do? Okay, we're going to go, on this course and we're going to become a partner in the firm and then, all of that." And I think that for most people, the path is just not as straight as that. And, and I think that you have to be open to new opportunities.

    Bethany Schneider:
    You have to be open to realizing that you're going to be going down a road that you never even thought possible. And you have to be just more open to things coming. And as a lawyer, I think that you're best if you are ever evolving and learning new things and trying new things.

    Bethany Schneider:
    I think the other thing that I would say is that, to be the best lawyer, you can be, you also need to be a whole person because, especially at big firms, we can get so wrapped up and just our work and just stressing about, just so focused on our practice and you, what we're doing and how we're getting ahead. And, whether we're going to be promoted and you what the partners think of us, that we forget that, a lot about being a trial lawyer is having life experiences and being able to relate to people in a persuasive, meaningful, impactful way, and to do that, you need to have a life. I mean, that's one thing that I've really tried to do since I've started my own firm is kind of live life more and work on being a whole person that can, present that to a jury versus somebody who's just so focused on being a lawyer.

    Chris Bua:
    I think that's great advice for all of us. Thank you so much Bethany for coming on. If any of our listeners want to get in touch with you, what's the best way to connect?

    Bethany Schneider:
    Well, my email address you can get me directly is Bethany@Schneiderinjuryattorney.com or my phone number is 404.800.3060, and both of those ways you can get in touch with me directly.

    Chris Bua:
    I also highly encourage everyone to try to connect with you on LinkedIn, because like I said earlier, I think you're doing a great job on there. And I think people would find it very useful. So hopefully you can grow your connections through Settlement Nation. Thank you so much for listening and remember to like, subscribe and review our podcast. Thank you again, Bethany.

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