This spring of 2015 marks several milestones in my life: 25 years married to my wife, Jean; 25 years living in the Hudson community; and 25 years as a litigation attorney for the Lommen Abdo law firm. In those 25 years, I have learned many lessons relating to litigation and the practice of law in general and I would like to share a handful.
First, consulting an attorney as early as possible can save time and money in the long run. The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true when it comes to legal issues. I have regularly seen parties attempt to draft agreements or conduct transactions on their own, only to find out months or years later that the agreement they thought was sufficient turns out to be totally inadequate for the purpose intended. Attempts to save a couple hundred dollars can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
Second, not every wrong can be “cured” by litigation. Litigation costs more than just money, it can require a substantial emotional investment, tremendous stress and worry, and rob you of time that could be spent enjoying family and friends.
Third, an effective litigator does more listening than talking. Whether it is my own client or the opposing attorney, hearing and understanding both the verbal and non-verbal message being conveyed avoids misunderstanding and wasted time and energy.
Fourth, a lawyer best represents his clients objectively and unemotionally. Litigants are often convinced of the righteousness of their position with emotions that run deep. An attorney who can process the pros and cons of a particular issue and assess risk in an objective and unemotional manner does his client a great service.
Finally, be skeptical of anyone who professes to know the single right answer or outcome. Find an attorney who is creative and can use multiple approaches to find the solution that best fits the parties’ needs for the long run.
While I am not sure I will get another 25 years in private practice, I am sure I will continue to meet great people and learn new lessons.