Recently, I argued in a contested business litigation matter that had dragged on for more than a decade. No two trials are alike, so each and every time I attend trial I am taught new things, and this trial was no exception. Over the course of this two-day trial I was reminded of several lessons that are helpful to anyone considering hiring an attorney. These are the three most important factors to consider when evaluating a lawyer who may represent you at trial:
Over the course of this litigation, which my firm has been involved in for several years, our theory of the case changed several times. As we continued to find more documents from years past, we discovered new items we could use in trial, new damages to our clients, and new themes to explore. Oftentimes these were issues we did not know about when we initially took the case. It was only through our tireless efforts to review and integrate these new documents into our understanding that we were able to create a complete picture of the case to present to the judge. Ultimately, based upon our efforts in the office, we were able to provide the best possible representation at trial because it went beyond those issues first raised by our clients.
The best attorneys are those who are able to evaluate a case not only for the obvious, but also to discover new and unknown issues that benefit the clients. By evaluating all options and spending the time and energy to review those new options, we were able to better represent our clients.
In the days leading up to trial, the intensity of preparation always increases. There is no alternative to spending time and energy in constantly and carefully reviewing the materials and issues necessary. Through our preparations, we were able to anticipate the issues that would be questioned by opposing counsel and the judge at trial, and we could respond effectively. Had we not spent the time to prepare and challenge ourselves, we would never have recognized those issues and would have been caught off guard and unprepared.
The best attorneys are those who will spend the extra time to achieve the best results. By putting forth that extra effort, your attorney will be able to respond effectively and with the necessary authority to be persuasive.
During this trial, like many before it, there was a moment that did not go as smoothly as hoped. There was a document that was misplaced and needed to be found in the pounds of pages produced in this litigation. After discussion with all attorneys present, and after review of the law with the judge, the parties agreed that a break could be taken in order to find the correct documents. This courtesy demonstrated a level of professionalism that is harder and harder to find in the practice of law today. Professionalism means understanding those issues that need to be addressed in order to find justice for the clients, and those issues that are of little importance in the course of trial. Thanks to the professionalism shown to me at trial, we were able to produce the correct document and continue the trial without wasting the valuable time of the court, the attorneys, and the parties.