The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Monday, January 17, 2005

Swinging from the Heels

The American Bar Association publishes a quarterly called The Compleat Lawyer. There is a particularly interesting article in the Summer 1997 issue, Strategies for Representing the Plaintiff.

There is plenty of tactical advice for plaintiff's lawyers here. For example: "Defendants usually do not have many people to depose in a plaintiff's case. Plaintiffs do. Don't do it. All you will get is a costly dress rehearsal, benefitting only defendant."

But the real meat is strategic. Near the start of "Evaluate the Case":
... You need an ongoing "inventory" of cases in the pipeline. Not every potential plaintiff who walks through your front door is the one with the case that will let you retire.
There is another problem with being too choosy. You risk turning what was once upon a time the practice of a noble profession, worthy of the name "counselor," into a mercenary business. If you do that, you may have trouble looking at yourself in the mirror each morning as you brush your teeth. Besides, you will be missing out on the best fun in the practice of the law: taking a sow's ear of a case and turning it into a silk purse filled with gold, i.e., a good monetary recovery and a grateful client.
[Emphasis mine.] I have included the second paragraph solely for entertainment value; keep your self-respect and make big money from low-quality complaints!

And in the closing section, "Focus Your Practice":
Every once in a while, there will be the case where the liability is great, the damages are substantial, and the plaintiff has the emotional and economic staying power to go for broke. Go for it. Take the case to trial. That case is your home run. But don't make the mistake of thinking that these ingredients will be present in each and every case.
For the bulk of cases in your office, you can only focus your practice by obtaining the most realistic settlement for the largest amount of money in the shortest period of time possible.

What a profession it must be, when those in it are motivated mainly by the prospect of retirement. Perhaps we should pity them.