The Major League

My family is a baseball family. My dad, the late Park T. Pigott, Sr. played baseball, coached baseball, and generally speaking, lived much of his life for baseball. I am not usually fond of sports analogies, however, recent experiences with clients of Magnus Research Consultants have reminded me of baseball. Almost all of Magnus’ clients “play in the major league,” in that they are trial lawyers and litigators who are at the pinnacle of their legal career, with cases of a substantial magnitude that warrant retaining a trial consultant. Our most recent client, as one example, is a criminal defense attorney with 40 years of experience. He has represented a multitude of clients in high profile cases that, if I were permitted to mention, would be well known to almost everyone. He was a first time client who, after working with another consultant for many years, decided he wanted someone with a Ph.D. in psychology to provide a scientific analysis of his case’s strengths and weaknesses, When we differed in methodological approaches regarding his research design, he deferred to me, saying his client is paying for my expertise and professional opinion. Needless to say, it has been an honor and a true pleasure to work with this attorney. He is definitely in the major league within the legal profession. In contrast, Magnus had another recent client who I would describe, as kindly as possible, as only capable of playing in the minor league. In fact, I will go as far as saying that this attorney conducted himself as if he were a rookie instead of an experienced attorney. He was rude, condescending, unprofessional, and threatened by the help I attempted to provide him on behalf of our mutual client. It is almost as if he doesn’t know the Miami Marlins now have a general manager who is a woman (Hooray for Kim Ng!). He is the only client in the long history of Magnus who refused to speak with me about the extensive report I prepared after conducting research on his case, as well as the only client we have ever had who told me he didn’t care how we usually conduct research because he was going to do it his way or no way at all. The contrast between someone who plays in the major league and someone who is just, well, not good enough to make the big time was astounding to me. Needless to say, when I’m coaching a pitcher in the World Series of trials, he/she had better be prepared to play ball in the major league by allowing me to do what I do best. Now, play ball!

This minor leaguer experience was one of the strangest situations we have had in years.  We had been, to keep up with the baseball analogy, “scouted” by the end client (that is the entity/person paying our bill).  Our ability to work with the lawyer was limited until that scouting was completed.  Admittedly, this process was abnormal, but we tried to accommodate the client’s request.  However, while we accommodated, the lawyer did not, and he abruptly tried to impose his way of doing things, reportedly based on prior experience with other trial consultants who may or may not have Magnus’ expertise. While some of what he wanted to do was possible and feasible, some of it was downright ill advised.  He did not welcome, or even accept, our suggestions to maximize the benefits of the research program.  Not taking advice from a baseball coach, an expert, is probably not good for the team.  Nor was it for the trial team.  We know the lead, “first chair” lawyer is in charge of the case.  We’ve worked for  some really “big dogs,” and we rarely have a conflict.  But this one took it to a new level, that is, a new low.  The new low included the lawyer’s unwillingness to talk with us productively pre-research, and not at all post research.  And, I have a strong reason to believe that he never read our report.  In our business, there is almost always only 1 game to play to decide who wins of loses – the World Series of a trial.  Not to be too self important, but in our minds, anyone on a serious trial team should consider our input as information and, while free to reject it, they should at least consider our findings.  This is the norm.  Not doing so may be malpractice – especially if things do not go well!  Big leaguers listen to the coaches, they know how to incorporate input into their game! (And, as a postscript, we know this minor leaguer failed to achieve a win for his client, resulting in many devastating consequences for the client. We will always wonder what would have happened if Melissa’s advice had been heard.) 

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