Photo by Molly Steenson
Here we go again (not).
2019 has been an anomaly for LEVENTHAL pllc as we have had two jury trials. We have had three trials disappear the day before the scheduled trials (one arbitration and two trials in state district court, to be precise).
In the first instance, we settled on day one of trial. In the second instance, an arbitration, the opposing party folded and settled the Friday before an arbitration scheduled for the following Monday.
This time, the jury trial, scheduled to start today, was “continued” (which is legalese for its opposite, i.e., postponed) because one of the two defendants announced on Monday that it is filing for bankruptcy (triggering the bankruptcy code’s “automatic stay“).
(Whether the filing of bankruptcy of one defendant should stay (legalese for “stop”) the lawsuit against a co-defendant is complex legal question beyond the scope of this post. Broadly speaking, the answer is “no” but, in this case, to our disappointment, the court ruled otherwise.)
As most civil litigators know, it is common to go several years without a trial.
Query: when a potential client is looking for a lawyer, how much weight should the client put on whether the lawyer has tried any, a few, or many cases to a jury (or a judge or an arbitrator)?
In our view, the answer is (of course) (because lawyers are lawyers): “It depends.”
Since 99% of cases settle before trial, choosing one’s lawyer based on the outlier scenario seems misguided. On the other hand, the credible threat of a legal thrashing clearly adds settlement value to many legal disputes. Therefore, at least some trial experience, preferably recent trial experience, presumably is helpful in credibly communicating to the adverse party (and counsel) that one is ready to take the dispute to trial.
Contact LEVENTHAL pllc if you want to hire an experienced and relatively inexpensive Minnesota civil litigator and trial lawyer with recent trial experience.