Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Thomas Balmès and Maha Productions
Directed by Thomas Balmès
DVD, color, 88 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Criminal Justice, Law
Date Entered: 05/15/2009Reviewed by Christopher Lewis, American University Library, American University
This fascinating documentary opens with a simple introductory note explaining, among other things, that it captures the daily work at the law firm Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder “as they value the harm done to their clients and set about getting the maximum compensation pay out possible from the insurance companies of those at fault.” It’s mentioned that Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder is the top law firm in Connecticut for personal injury awards. Beyond that the video is done in cin éma v érit é style with the footage telling the story. The viewer gets glimpses of several cases in which the firm is engaged. These include the death of a young man in an auto accident; medical misdiagnoses; and the murder of a woman whose assailant husband had been under psychiatric care. Because the time frame of the video is limited one only sees a small portion of a given case and details about outcomes are unknown. The lawyers’ interviews with the clients are compelling as is the coverage of their strategizing sessions. Personal injury attorneys aren’t usually included among the most esteemed in the law profession so for this firm to allow a candid view of how they fight their cases is brave. The layman will probably be surprised to see how much effort is put into the calculation of jury sympathies. The attorneys tease out every possible detail to rationalize the highest possible reward without tipping the scale. Their techniques include the use of mock juries, polished video productions, and consultation with an economist who extrapolates the value of a lost life. There’s also a ground-breaking case where a lesbian dying of cancer is pursuing a malpractice suit for loss of consortium to benefit her partner. Cinematography, editing, sound, and direction are all outstanding. The video will be of general interest to a wide audience and is recommended viewing. It’s highly recommended for law school libraries and libraries with strong criminal justice collections.