In four decades of practicing law, we have successfully handled cases in a wide variety of industries. Based on our experience, we recommend the following strategies if you find yourself involved in a dispute:
- Hire Trial Lawyers, Not Litigators.
Most cases settle. Some lawyers count on that and have never tried a case despite years of practice. You need a lawyer who is ready, willing, and able to stand up for you before a judge and jury. If you want a good settlement, your opponents need to know you have an experienced trial lawyer.
- Case Evaluation.
Litigation is one of the worst possible places for yes men and women. You need lawyers who will give you an objective evaluation of the potential value of any lawsuit in which you’re involved, whether as the plaintiff or the defendant. No lawyer can guarantee the outcome of any case. But your lawyer should be able to give you an informed opinion so you, in turn, can make informed decisions. If your case is weak, you need to know that on Day One. If you have a terrific case, you need to know that, too.
- Look For Achilles’ Heel.
Your trial lawyers should always try to find an Achilles’ heel in an opponent’s case. Finding a single, simple, fatal flaw in your opponent’s case can save you substantial amounts of time, money and aggravation. For example, we once made a class action lawsuit go away by explaining, in a nice letter to opposing counsel, why the plaintiffs had no standing to make the claims in the complaint. Opposing counsel reviewed the cases and statutes we cited, saw we were right, and dismissed the case voluntarily. Our client never had to file any papers with the Court.
- Get A Battle Plan And A Budget.
How much is the litigation going to cost you? Ask your lawyers to prepare a battle plan and a budget setting forth their best estimate as to what tasks they will need to perform, when they will need to perform those tasks, and how much each will cost. You need to know your lawyers actually have some kind of battle plan for victory, and that the estimated costs will not exceed the benefits. After all, a Pyrrhic victory is no victory at all.
- Explore Settlement Early.
We do not think it is a sign of weakness to discuss settlement early, before both sides spend a fortune on legal fees. Rather, we think it is sensible to make sure litigation is necessary before committing to it. Once filed, a lawsuit can take on a life of its own. Like quicksand, it is a lot easier to get into a lawsuit than to get out of one.
- Avoid Overstaffing.
How many lawyers does it take to win a case? We typically assign just one experienced lawyer to work on a client’s case, with input and help, as needed, from the other two. Occasionally two attorneys have taken a case to trial. We have never needed three or more. A law clerk, legal assistants and office assistants help with tasks that do not require a lawyer’s time. We think it is a mistake to assign a small army of attorneys to every case. Overstaffing means excessive billing and actually can result in lower quality, because often the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
We have successfully represented clients in cases involving many industries and many areas of the law, including: billboard leases and easements; specific performance; real estate sales; eminent domain, commercial leases; agricultural contracts; hillside collapse; construction cases, commercial contracts, employment contracts, partnership disputes, constitutional issues, boundary disputes, commission disputes, international aviation; misappropriation of trade secrets; computer software copyright infringement; telecommunications; energy; and entertainment.