What a Trial Lawyer Knows About Trials
Often when I sit down with a new client to discuss how they feel they need to sue someone or someone has sued them, we first have to work through the shock of why they are in a lawyer’s office. We need to know where lawyer’s offices and doctor’s offices are but somehow we hope we will never need them.
I recently spoke with a client who had battled cancer. She said the shock she felt when she received her cancer diagnosis is similar to the one when she found out she found out she was being sued. The more I thought about that, the more similarities I saw to why I, as a trial lawyer, will only recommend taking a case into litigation as a last resort.
Most of us have had loved ones who have battled cancer. We remember the shock of finding out the diagnosis, the pain, and expense of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery; all without knowing if the battle is going to be won or lost. I realized that there are real similarities between a cancer battle and a legal battle. I say this knowing that very few legal battles hold a life in the balance. Cancer battles are much more serious and important, but there are still similarities between the two.
First, legal disputes are battles. Our legal system is intentionally adversarial. The theory is that the truth is best determined when two sides disagree and put on their best evidence and arguments supporting their side of the dispute in front of a neutral judge or jury. That is the system, but the system comes at the price of peace of mind. If the custody of your children, the ownership of your land, or the distribution of your inheritance is at stake, the battle will take its toll. This is especially true if your opponent was a friend or family member.
Second, similar to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, legal disputes involve long, expensive and sometimes frustrating processes. Things like having your testimony taken before trial by the opposing lawyer in a deposition, answering written questions under oath, attending motion hearings, and the final trauma of the trial take their toll.
Third, there are no guarantees as to who will win. Will the battle be worth it? I often tell clients that if any lawyer guarantees them the outcome of a trial, they need to run, not walk, out the that lawyer’s office. That attorney does not know what he or she is talking about. I have seen too many things happen in a courtroom or jury room in my career to ever be foolish enough to guarantee a client anything about the outcome of a trial.
Fourth, while you hope that the chemotherapy or radiation works, you have to be prepared for surgery. In a legal battle, hopefully once the facts and law have developed, an agreement can be reached that both sides can live with to resolve the dispute. But a good trial lawyer always has a question in the back of their mind. “If we can’t reach an agreement, how can I best try this case?” Whether you are trusting your life to a surgeon or your legal dispute to a trial lawyer, you need to know that you have an experienced professional who will use the best of their training, education, and experience to get the best possible result.
In the end, all that a surgeon or trial lawyer can offer is to do his or her best to get a good result. You must have confidence that your surgeon or trial lawyer will invest the best of themselves in you, will walk with you through the battle, and will honestly share with you good news and bad.
If you would like to talk to any of our trial lawyers at White Law Office about helping you with your potential legal battle, it will be our honor and privilege to invest ourselves in you. We want to walk with you through the battle and to honestly share with you good news and bad. We will always do our best to deliver the best possible outcome.
Thomas D. White
Photo: Faith Through Fotos • www.faiththroughfotos.