Trial Counsel for Law Firms

The Value of a Trial Lawyer

What value does a trial lawyer bring to the table?

I previously wrote about why your law firm should hire a trial lawyer here and how your law firm can hire a trial lawyer here.  But I haven’t yet explained the big picture value in hiring a trial lawyer, so here goes:

Many lawyers say they are willing to go to trial if necessary.  But most lawyers avoid trial, consider trial a failure and aim to settle.  This is the settlement approach to litigation and it’s commonplace.

The problem with the settlement approach is that one’s adversary is fully aware of it, expects it and depends on it.  The settlement approach is completely transparent.

Make a lot of noise and settle.  Repeat: make a lot of noise and settle.  Repeat: make a lot of noise and settle.  It’s like crying wolf or a bad poker strategy.  The settlements shift lower and lower.

The value of a trial lawyer is that when your firm actually takes cases to trial, people notice.  The value of a trial lawyer and their corresponding trial expertise includes:

1. Realising on the upside potential of success at trial,

2. Enhanced firm reputation,

3. Increased bargaining power, and

4. Elevated settlements for cases that do not go to trial.

Widespread lawyer and client risk adversity is to blame for an overly cautious settlement atmosphere.  Our risk-adverse legal industry presents an opportunity for law firms and lawyers with a higher risk tolerance to set themselves apart by flagging appropriate cases for trial.

Differentiation can be achieved by developing an in-house trial expertise.  You can start with these trial resources.  Instead of everyone being in the “litigation” or “dispute resolution” department, reassign a few people and establish a “trial advocacy” department.  Transfer files from the litigation or dispute resolution department to the trial advocacy department when mediation is done and the case is set down for trial.  These departments should be collaborating and sharing ideas.

Smaller firms can outsource trial work by retaining a trial lawyer when the case is set down for trial.  Smaller firms should be discussing with trial counsel what to do early on in a case to set it up for success at trial.

On a case-by-case basis, large and small firms should trim pre-trial litigation time and money wasters (motions and examinations for discovery) and shift those resources to trial work.

Going to trial more often will pay off in the long run because many law firms are going to remain overly cautious and carry on as usual.

Hassell Trial Counsel
111 Greensides Ave
Toronto, Ontario M6G 3P8


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