Monday, November 01, 2010

Things you never want to see made: laws and settlement agreements

Setting: Mediation. Judge’s office. Sun filtering through the windows. Counsel and clients sit before the judge about to begin the settlement conference process.

Partner: Your honor, we don’t believe that there is a case here. The Plaintiff is on a fishing expedition…
Me: (I sit silently as a good associate should despite doing most of the work on this file…my reward is being present at this illustrious day)
Partner: …and frankly, our clients are content at paying us and not the Plaintiff…
Me: (Seen but not heard…yet still billing my time)
Partner: Our clients would like to have their day in court…
Judge: Well…um…normally I would…
Me: (There are just some eruptions that you can see coming…)
Client: Your Honor, this is injustice! We have had to pay hundreds of thousands in legal fees and we’ve done nothing wrong…I believe…
Judge: Let me stop your right there…
Me: (Stifling laughter as judge kicks client in face)
Judge: (Kicks client in face)
Partner: (More adroitly stifles laugher as judge kicks client in face)
Judge: I think the Plaintiff does not have a case. But make the smart business decision here.
Client: But…But…
Judge: Do it.
Client: Your honor, they don’t have a case.
Judge: It doesn’t matter if the whiny bitch. I don’t have a magic wand.
Partner: (Looks down as he stifles the ‘told you so’ dance)
Me: (Coughs)
Client: What does it say about the judicial system if we get held hostage to a…
Judge: I’ve been doing this my entire professional life. Don’t insult the system. Just the settle case. Or pay your attorneys another $150,000 and get out of my office.
Partner: (Grimaces and braces for the client to go nuts)
Client: But…but…but…fine.

Three years, hundreds of billable hours and a less than nuisance value settlement equals a final score of: Defense team 1, Plaintiff’s counsel 0.