How serious are you about winning?

Continuing the discussion started in the post entitled How much risk can you take off the table?, the conversation took another turn when our client mentioned another question he asks certain clients, “How serious are you about winning?”. He usually works for sophisticated and/or wealthy clients on commercial cases – those without physical injuries. Many of these cases involve business disputes among partners, associates, family, or perhaps, involve disputes in which some entity just “did someone wrong” and his clients want their day in court to get justice. Because many of his clients can afford to pay, he questions them about how seriously they want to win. The answer to that question informs his litigation strategy when it comes to hiring experts (hiring the best), hiring multiple experts (to cover all the bases), and using all available resources like trial consultants (to ensure that all that can be done for the client is done). I’d imagine the question may take some of the clients aback when they first get involved in a case and have to consider the litigation budget. But, I applaud our client for taking this approach so that he can judge how to work with each client. These types of clients are usually very demanding and, while they may open their checkbooks, it is not without asking questions to be sure they are getting their money’s worth. Proving the importance and efficacy of every action taken in the case can be difficult, but this is another way in which mock jury research is beneficial. It demonstrates whether or not the litigation efforts, experts, strategies, are combining to achieve the desired outcome. If not, the client can make an informed decision as to how to proceed. If so, full steam ahead!

It amazes me that some clients are more interested in winning their cases than others, in that I believe winning one’s case should be a desirable goal for everyone who becomes involved in litigation. In fact, if I were an attorney who worked on high stakes civil litigation, I would consider asking all of my clients this question prior to agreeing to represent them. People who want to win their case, but only halfheartedly, might not be the best type of client for an attorney to represent. Although clients who want to win their case at all costs might be difficult to represent, in that they might be overly involved in their case, with a tendency to second guess their attorney (and experts, such as myself, hired by their attorney), I prefer this type of client to the client who appears reluctant to pursue his/her case. Magnus has been working with wealthy, sophisticated clients on a large commercial case for the past several months. These clients have been more demanding than our usual clients, including requiring us to travel to numerous in person meetings (where we are “grilled” about every detail of our work), as well as attend even more numerous telephone conferences, however, as time passes, David and I have come to appreciate these clients and their passion for winning their case. When resources are limited, there is justification for curtailing one’s efforts toward winning a lawsuit; otherwise, a client’s level of commitment to his/her case provides a good measure of whether the attorney’s efforts will be rewarded.

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