A challenging aspect of our trial consulting work is timing. It is always an issue for us to ramp up when we are engaged for a project. There is lead time in all that we do. Some clients, particularly repeat clients, understand this and call us well in advance of their “need.” Other times it is not so much an issue of a short front end, but rather a long, lingering one. I’m thinking of one case we handled, in particular. We did the intake and proposal for the case 10 years before we finally did the mock jury research. That remains the record, but others often take several years. Sometimes it is due to appeals, change in counsel, change in parties, or a complete revision of the case. It is nearly incomprehensible to me to consider being in litigation on a case for that duration, yet, it is a fact of life for us, and our attorney clients. The related challenge for this timing phenomenon is keeping track of pending cases. How often do I call and check the status, for example? When is too often, or not often enough? We don’t want to get caught off guard with a surprise call “We’re ready to go and the trial is in 2 weeks.” One thing I have to keep in mind is not to take it personally when I do not receive a return telephone call. That’s not to say I don’t find it bothersome; it’s just that we are not the clients’ priority until we are. I’ve learned not to “give up” because we haven’t been updated. Besides the 10 year case, we’ve had many delays prior to trials and many delays with appeals post trial. This means the case is not over and we have to be on standby in case a new trial is ordered. As frustrating as it is for us, it is even more difficult to imagine the frustrations of the parties to the litigation. Having been there as a litigant, I know that living it, however long it takes, has its own frustrations. The key to surviving within the legal system is not to give up because they haven’t called back or the decision is not yet final.
I sincerely hope 10 years will be the longest time between case intake and conducting mock trials! At this point in my life and career, I’m not certain I will be around 10 years from now! The case to which David refers is Magnus’ infamous case #110. As a point of reference, when we finally conducted the mock jury research on this case, we were working on cases with numbers in the low 1000s. As of this writing, we are working on cases approaching #2000. The delays in clients’ willingness to retain Magnus are usually caused by numerous external forces, such as continuances of trials by judges. There are other causes of delays, such as some of our clients’ tendency to procrastinate, while hoping their case will settle. When this happens, there have been times when the attorney has procrastinated so long that, when he finally decides to return David’s calls and emails, it is too late for us conduct mock jury research, select a jury, or even have a telephone conference. (Notice I used the pronoun “he.” Thus far, in our 30 years of business, Magnus has never had a female attorney who waited until the last minute to retain us.) David’s job of constantly following up with clients and prospective clients is not for me and I daresay most people would not be as good as he is in performing this unpleasant task. I dislike talking on the telephone, for the most part, preferring instead to communicate via text or email. Furthermore, I do not have David’s even keeled personality. One call without the kindness of an answer or a returned call is my limit. Thanks, David, for following up with Magnus’ clients. Here’s hoping for fast decisions and speedy retainers in the future!