We try cases. A lot of people say that; we do it. We do jury trials. We do judge alone trials, known as bench trials, which are increasingly common in commercial disputes because contracts often include jury trial waivers. We do arbitrations before one or three members panels, before the AAA, FINRA, JAMS or another arbitral forum, again because many standard business and consumer agreements contain arbitration clauses. We handle cases from the start, and also often are retained late in the game when settlement fails and a trial date is looming.
Whether the case will be tried to a jury, a judge or a special tribunal, the key elements are the same, and that starts with developing a theme that will carry throughout the case and frame the issues for pretrial motions, discovery, and everything from jury selection to final argument and appeal. Many lawyers and big firms litigate their cases, taking the necessary steps and going through all the motions, but with a plan to settle the case shortly before trial. These lawyers hope for a favorable settlement, and have no backup plan if the case does not settle.
We take the alternate approach, by developing a theme and strategy in the beginning, and working through the case with that theme in mind, focusing on how the judge or jury will view the witnesses and the evidence. Trial plans must remain flexible, as the case evolves, and ours do, but it is too late to start when a mediation or last minute settlement conference fails.
We settle plenty of cases, but we do so from a position of strength, having carefully evaluated our case, the good and whatever is not so good. And knowing that if the particular case is one which the client must try for some reason or if our opponent is unable or unwilling to enter into a settlement on reasonable terms, we will be ready.