Why Litigation Is Nothing More Than a Business Tool – 26 Unbreakable Rules of Litigation!
From Bill Gates at the end of the last century to John D. Rockefeller at the end of the last century; from Rick Scott, founder of Columbia Health Care, to AT&T: from Richard Branson and British Airlines to Dan Peña and The Financial Times; from government, banking, insurance and every other aspect of global commerce – to grow geometrically and stick around, litigation must be (carefully) harnessed and contained.
As briefly as I can, I will recall the most important points of using the legal process as a business tool.
Now, before I begin, I want to put it on the record, about 50% of my 30 years of litigation experience has not involved making money, ie. as defamatory remarks about me; and some were because an entity simply needed a good reward and no one else would carry the banner into battle.
I, like Don Quixote, have fought many windmills.
As you’ve heard me talk and write, when you’re building your “Dream Team” you want Big Five accountants and a large national or international law firm – the best representation you can’t afford!
Unlike the success-based fees I teach you to use in facilitating transactions, no law firm will file a lawsuit initially on this basis.
Perhaps, if your case is particularly strong, they will do so on a contingency basis. Unfortunately, you will occasionally use litigation as a positioning tool, and your case may not be something you can take seriously.
A year or two ago, after being defrauded, I had to file a lawsuit with, at best, dubious facts to support the desired outcome. Fortunately, our (my) apparent thirst for litigation was stronger than their desire to fight an uphill battle, so a reasonably good settlement was finally reached.
Of course, during this process my good lawyers advised us, advising that our case should be much stronger, etc. Even with great lawyers, it’s their job to tell you the downside risks. Again, what happens is that you are often afraid to pursue your case.
Good lawyers win so many cases. Great lawyers can win cases where you have little or no chance of winning.
Three of my favorite litigators over the years are Steve Sussman and Cyrus Marter IV of Sussman Godfrey in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle and Tim Harris of Charleston Revic & Williams in Los Angeles. All three of them pulled me out of some pretty big black holes.
I have dealt with them for 10 and 20 years respectively. They are worth every penny they charge!
Our justice system works, but we grow up in fear of it. It’s way out of our comfort zone, so we can’t take advantage of it. Usually the costs associated with it prevent us from using it.
In fact, I am currently involved in a lawsuit where the ancillary litigants have rights that have been seriously violated. A large group of people can lead to a lot of pressure, but they are afraid because of previous bad experiences. They could get what they deserve, but they are not pursuing their best interests.
There are lawyers who take on cases for humanitarian reasons, if the case warrants it, and in business, ie. big big corporations that benefit from the system just because of their size.
Why do you want to file the case, so you are the plaintiff? As the plaintiff, you choose where and when the case is litigated and likely ultimately decided.
This can be a huge advantage. And second, the plaintiff is allowed two closing arguments, which means you (your attorney) must address the judge and/or jury once and then again after the defendants’ closing arguments. This can also be very important.
26 Inviolable Rules of Litigation
#1 PICK YOUR BATTLES
#2 CHOOSE THE LOCATION
#3 BE THE PLAINTIFF
#4 YOU HAVE THE BEST REPRESENTATION
#5 LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
#6 DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR SICK STOMACH WHEN YOU’RE OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
#7 DON’T LISTEN TO RELATIVES, FRIENDS, ETC
#8 LISTEN TO EXPERIENCED PAGES – LIKE ME!
#9 GENERALLY SPEAKING, DON’T WORRY ABOUT COSTS (IT’S VERY HARD!)
#10 BIG DEEDS ARE BETTER THAN SMALL
#11 PROCEDURES FOR THE SELECTION OF JUDGES, UNLIKE A JUDGE
#12 PREPARATION (YOUR) IS EVERYTHING – KNOW THE FACTS
#13 PRACTICE DELAYS AND REHEARSALS
#14 IF YOU THINK OF A BETTER STRATEGY, GET A NEW LAWYER (NOT TRUE IN MY CASE)
#15 NEVER GIVE UP
#16 DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE PROCESS
#17 USE TRIALS (TRIALS YOU TAKE IN FRONT OF THE Recruited Jury)
#18 DRESS SIMPLY AND CONSERVATIVELY IN COURT – NO JEWELRY EXCEPT A WEDDING RING; WHITE SHIRT, PLAIN TIE AND DARK SUIT FOR MEN AND EQUIVALENT FOR WOMEN; SHORT KEEPED HAIR FOR MEN
#19 DON’T LOSE YOUR MONEY IN COURT – IT WILL PAY IF IT’S GENUINE
#20 PUT YOUR WIFE FIRST EVERY DAY. IF POSSIBLE AND CHILDREN. OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE SECOND ROW ARE FINE
#21 NO PRESS QUOTES OTHER THAN “WE BELIEVE IN OUR CASE AND THAT’S WHY WE WENT TO COURT”. YOUR WORDS CAN EASILY BE TURNED AROUND.
#22 WHEN THEY ARE BREAKING FOR LUNCH OR BREAK REMEMBER NEVER TALK ABOUT THE CASE PUBLICLY – YOU NEVER KNOW WHO MIGHT HEARING
#23 WHEN YOU FIND A LEGAL TEAM THAT WINS, STAY WITH THEM
#24 ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH NO MATTER WHAT. THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.
#25 DURING VIDEOTAPE DEPOSITIONS AND IN COURT, LOOK AT THE CAMERA AND THE JURY. Make eye contact.
#26 WHEN TESTIFYING AT A DEPOSITION/TRIAL, IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, SAY YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER
It’s a closed world of a top judge. Virtually all major law firms have good to super good lawyers. All big law firms don’t have great judges. You don’t always need a great lawyer, but sometimes if you grow exponentially, you will.
Like any other project management, litigation needs to be managed. Unfortunately, like giving a speech, you become a great participant in the process by going through the learning curve.
I don’t mean that you have to engage in a losing effort (like making bad speeches so that after a while you make good speeches) to get into a position to win in court. Large law firms will allow you to get ahead of the learning curve.
The Quantum Leap methodology talks ad nauseam about following your dreams. A life without dreams is like a bird with a broken wing – it cannot fly. I wrote this newsletter because sometimes you will need litigation to follow your dream.
Get out there and kick ass and don’t let conventional wisdom stop you from achieving your dream.
Conventional wisdom says don’t litigate.
All the high-performing people and great organizations of the last hundred years have been and are doing business as I write this letter.
Don’t take lawsuits lightly – but don’t be afraid, either.
To your quantum leap,
Daniel C. Rock, Sr
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