“A bad settlement is better than a good trial,” is the kind of thing a trial lawyer says to a client/plaintiff when recommending a settlement offer that is less than full compensation for the wrong (that is, 99.9% of settlements) when the wronged client balks at the settlement but the trial lawyer thinks it is, on balance, a (relatively) good deal.
A very experienced and distinguished Twin Cities trial lawyer, on the other hand, was quoted this past year in the press disdainful of younger trial lawyers whose decade or more of trial work might not have included a single trial. “These whippersnappers call themselves trial lawyers…,” was the gist of his comments.
So, are there too many trials or too few these days?
The recent jury verdict in Daglish v. Professional Computer Services LLP, a garden variety “sales commission case,” reflects a case where neither side should be all that celebratory, after taking this case through more than a year of litigation to a jury verdict.
Having sued in March, 2010, it took plaintiff until last week to get a jury verdict of $99,000 when he had been seeking about $450,000 in damages, fees, and costs. Without knowing more about the case, it is hard to say which side should be more disappointed.
Dalglish seeks award of his attorneys’ fees. It is unclear at this point whether he will be awarded them and, if so, how much of them he will get. It is also unclear which side was holding out and resisting “amicable resolution” at a compromised settlement amount.
But if one estimates that legal fees through and including trial in the U.S. almost always has to exceed $50,000 and, for any significant litigation, is certain to exceed $100,000, a $100,000 verdict is often, as judges tell many civil litigants, in no one’s interest except for the lawyers.
Maybe the rate of trials has gone down in recent years for good reason. And maybe trial lawyers with little trial experience are some of the best because they manage to resolve disputes for their clients favorably and quickly, which might not be in the lawyers’ best interest but might be in the clients?