In the win-some, lose-some world of trial work, claim your successes more often than others point out your defeats
By Geri L. Dreiling
There’s a saying among trial lawyers: Show me a lawyer who has never lost a case and I’ll show you a lawyer who has never tried one.
Let’s put it another way: In 2009, even superb St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, with a batting average of .327, didn’t get a hit about 67 percent of the time.
The message is clear. Whether you try cases or play major league baseball, there are going to be days when you strike out. The more prominent the lawyer, the higher the stakes are and the more visible the success — and the more stinging the stumble.
You only have to look at the annual roundups of top verdicts and settlements that are published this time of year to pick up a pattern: a core group of attorneys on both sides of the aisle who have soared to great heights and suffered setbacks.
The trick is to come out ahead more often than you wind up behind, not only on the personal win/loss chart in your head but also in the legal media spotlight.
Don’t Neglect Your Wins
Hearing a jury return a verdict on your client’s behalf is an exhilarating moment when time is suspended and you bask in the glow of victory.
Unfortunately, the time in which you can relish the win is fleeting. That’s because all of the other client matters, cases and problems that you’ve pushed to the side now flood to the forefront. Now it’s your good intention of writing a verdict or settlement report that’s been pushed aside. Days turn into weeks, then months. Eventually your plan to report the results is abandoned.
But another case may come along in which the results are not favorable. Your winning opponent may not neglect to report that win—and so, even if you’ve won or settled several good cases in a row, your loss could be the only matter that ends up getting publicized.
It would be like a highlight reel after a Cardinals game that only showed Pujols’ strikeouts and omitted his home runs.
Publicize Your Successes
To avoid that outcome, make preparing and submitting verdict and settlement reports a priority. Here are some tips to help you enforce your resolve:
- The day after a win or big settlement, make a one-hour appointment with yourself to write up a rough draft of the trial report while it’s still fresh in your head. Choose a coffeehouse, the law library, your study at home. Treat the exercise as a celebration rather than a chore.
- Ask an associate or paralegal to prepare a rough draft of the trial report, using the standard form provided by many verdict reporting services. Missouri Lawyers Weekly, The Civil Litigator, VerdictSearch and Verdict Reporter all supply forms that identify the key information needed. Getting a rough draft prepared will you take you 80 percent of the way to completing the project.
- Outsource the reporting to a legal publicist. Most experienced legal PR writers can quickly prepare a trial report from the petition and answer, the expert witness disclosure and trial briefs, if any.
Ultimately it is crucial to recognize that reporting a favorable verdict or settlement is not about ego—it is about presenting an accurate track record. By not reporting your successes, you are editing out of your highlight reel the wins you’d like referring lawyers and prospective clients to see.
Want more marketing, legal PR and attorney website content ideas? Subscribe to the Legal Media Matters email alerts: Get articles via e-mail