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“Seldom Loved, But Often Needed”

11/17/2015 | Commercial Litigation Blog

“Seldom loved, but often needed.”  Those are how the late Robert B. McKay, former Dean of New York University Law School, once described lawyers.

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Just as one should never enter a duel unarmed, one should never engage in a legal dispute unlawyered.  “Bad Things” can, and usually will, happen.

A good lawyer serves several purposes.  First, he or she helps you to navigate the increasingly complex obstacle course that litigation is.  It’s just too easy to make a fatal mistake if you try to go it alone.

Second, your lawyer is a filter.  If you tell your lawyer that you think that the other side is a horse’s patoot, your lawyer will tell opposing counsel only that you don’t particularly care for his client.  Turning the vitriol level down several degrees makes cases easier to resolve.

Third, your lawyer is a sounding board. He or she can tell you how a particular line of attack (or defense) is likely to play out in the litigation.

Fourth, your lawyer is only in it for the money.  Really.  And that doesn’t mean what you think it means.  It means that the lawyer isn’t all wrapped up in the drama of the personal or professional disagreement that gave rise to the lawsuit; he or she has a clear head, and can keep your best interests in mind even when you are too angry to do so yourself.  If settling a case is in your best interests, he or she will tell you so, even if you want to go the distance, just “to prove a point.” 

Continuing commercial litigation just “to prove a point” is usually a wrong answer.

If you think you need a lawyer, you probably do.  And if you have one, but are looking for a change, call me.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.