Can we talk?

As a mediator, there is always a case that you question yourself as to what you could you could have done differently in order to resolve the matter.  My case involved a personal injury case.  It appeared to be straightforward, as the defendant had admitted liability and the plaintiff ended up having surgery allegedly because of the accident.  Unfortunately, the mediation process went sideways before the mediation even began.  While introducing myself to the defense attorney who had arrived first, he said

I’d like to get to the point and save some time and money.  If they aren’t willing to take (25% of the cost of the surgery), then let’s end this and have a nice lunch.

Continue Reading Are You Ready For Mediation? Part 2–The Ten Commandments

Bully Lawyer

Today I read a great article by Minnesota attorney Randall Ryder titled “New Attorney? Don’t Get Intimidated by Opposing Counsel.”  The article struck a cord with me as it is a proponent of the same philosophy that I am advocating in my own blog—don’t be intimidated by a bully, do not react with words in kind and use the “Rules” to win. Though the article is directed towards new attorneys, this is good advice for every attorney.   Continue Reading Don’t Get Intimidated and Play by the Rules

iStock_000014100087Large.jpgLast spring I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Royal Globe Theatre in London, England.  On display there was a plaque titled “Quoting Shakespeare.” It began by stating:

If you can’t understand my argument and declare, “it’s Greek to me, you are quoting Shakespeare.  If you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare.  If you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if you lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare.  If you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied-a tower of strength—hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows—made a virtue necessitated, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink—stood on ceremony—danced attendance on your lord and mater—laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift—cold comfort, too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days, or lived in a fools paradise, why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are as good luck would have it, quoting Shakespeare…

Continue Reading Quoting Shakespeare

Attorney with Gloves.jpgWhen I was a research attorney in the Law and Motion department for Alameda County Superior Court, I handled the ex parte calendar. My judge instructed me to obtain the facts and arguments from counsel, do my own research if necessary, and present the ex parte application and my recommendation to her.  Early in my career at the court, I handled an ex parte application on a case that had apparently been up and back from the Court of Appeal. When I asked for the facts of the case from counsel, he shot back at me saying “The judge knows this case because she was writted.” I told him I needed to know the facts of the case so I could provide her with my research and recommendation. He refused. When I walked back to the judge’s chambers, I overheard the counsel tell his client “She must be new because everyone knows this case.”  

Continue Reading The Battle Before the Battle

Referee.jpgNine years ago, in the middle of a Deposition, defense counsel called plaintiff counsel a “Bitch.” Plaintiff counsel immediately filed a motion for a Discovery Referee and I was appointed. The court ordered that I sit in on all the depositions and attend the site inspection. All communication including the scheduling of discovery was to be done through me.

When I look back on this case,  I realize that the moment defense counsel used the word “Bitch” it became the turning point of the case. These two well-respected attorneys’ hostility toward one another drove the case. There were no more professional courtesies and the parties took extreme positions in their settlement negotiations. The case eventually went through a lengthy bench trial and appeal process that lasted years before plaintiff recovered an eight-figure judgement.

Continue Reading When an Apology is a Discovery Response

court reporter.jpg

A few months back I received an e-mail from a court reporter regarding a very unpleasant incident that occurred in a deposition. It went like this:

So…during questioning the attorneys were apparently getting to a very sensitive area of inquiry — and [Attorney #1] had already argued with all of the other attorneys — so, he stared me straight in the eye and said, “God damn it, when you’re asked to read a question back, you don’t just read a question, you read the answer also, do you hear me? Now I’ve got to object and say it’s asked and answered when if you would just do your fucking job I wouldn’t have to do so. When it happens again, you better read it the right way.”

Continue Reading The Goddess of the Deposition