Monday, July 26, 2010

Ten Commandments of Civil Litigation

1. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and lying clients.

2. It is not about what happened. It is about what you can prove happened and the rap sheets of your witnesses proving what happened.

3. Nothing can turn your case on its head like a judge informing counsel that their key piece of evidence doesn’t mean what counsel thinks it means.

4. If you didn’t eat before the mediation, it will run long. If you brought your umbrella, it will not rain. If you drank coffee before, you will have to pee as soon as it begins. If you are holding coffee, you will spill it on yourself.

5. If you are at the Courthouse and your client begins a sentence with “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but…” you had best be walking out of the courthouse with a settlement check in your hand.

6. If there are debts associated with the case and it has been settled, the client will never want to pay them.

7. If opposing counsel begins any settlement conversation with “I’m not going to argue the facts” you are not going to have a productive settlement conversation.

8. You will hurry up to wait for the judge. And you will still stand when they enter the room.

9. You aren’t suborning perjury if your client is lying to you and paying the witnesses to do the same. (I hope)

10. No good case is worth taking to a jury. Unless you are billing by the hour.