In business, real estate, or trust litigation, there is no question but that “job one” for an attorney representing a client is to prepare for trial. As we have discussed in other Blog posts, most cases in fact settle out of court before trial, rather than concluding with trial and a verdict. It is our belief that the very best way to induce the opposing side to settle a case is for the opposition to see that the Firm is diligently and zealously preparing for trial. Naturally, this policy and practice pays big dividends if the case does in fact go all the way to trial. This preparation is equally key for success in mediation or negotiation.
It is the attorney’s job to investigate the facts of a case and construct an effective and legally sound theory of the case. A working definition of a successful “theory of the case” is one which, if the jury (or judge) believes it, our side can expect to win. This is true for both defense cases and plaintiff’s cases. Legal strategy and tactics are largely the attorney’s job. Clients are not trained or qualified to do this and in my opinion lawyers cannot and never should delegate this task to the client.
The client, however, has a job in litigation that is every bit as important, if not more so, than the lawyer’s job as legal counsel. It is absolutely essential to success in most cases, particular complex civil cases such as business or real property disputes, that the client collaborate with the attorney as the principal source of information in the case. Usually the client lived through the events that led to the lawsuit. The client knows the people involved – who the important witnesses are likely to be. The client often knows many of the documents. Put simply, the client usually knows “where the bodies are buried,” figuratively speaking of course.
This sounds simple and obvious, but often lawyers and clients forget the critical role that the client should play as the first and often the primary source of information in the case. Collaboration between lawyer and client to develop the important information and evidence in the case is very often the key to victory at trial, or having the upper hand in mediation or settlement negotiations.
It is vital to success in litigation that the client be involved in the case and provides the attorneys with the relevant information. It is no doubt worth mentioning that when the client does this, it invariably helps keep legal costs down by lessening the amount of investigation that the attorneys on the case must do.
If you are involved in a business, real estate, or trust litigation dispute, we invite you to call Buffington Law Firm for a free legal consultation. The call is entirely confidential, and you will speak directly with an experienced trial attorney.