Use your network to win
While a good litigator should be aware of subspecialization, a good litigator also knows how to rely on others who are better than her at certain things.
One of the proclaimed advantages of so-called full-service law firms is that the lawyers who can handle any type of case or legal issue are all under one roof (or, nowadays, at least a virtual roof). . I’ve heard that the reality may not be quite how it really works – that in larger companies different practice groups can act almost completely independently of each other and that there has very little proverbial walking down the hall asking your M&C colleague a particular question that you don’t know as a litigant.
Reality in large firms aside, this point makes a lot of sense: a good litigator must be an expert at identifying the strategic goals of a client who has litigation or potential litigation, and then winning for the client. But once you’ve identified the goal and know what it means to win, it’s a long way to say you’ve figured out all the steps along the way. You may have a small business client whose intellectual property is hijacked by a large entity that ignores your client. But it’s very different from saying you have some idea of the law that might apply in a given industry, a given jurisdiction, etc.
While much of what we can do can be determined by investigation and research – in my example, read the relevant agreements, research the venue and substantive law, etc. and I often manage, it almost can not be enough. I wrote about the need to rely on your team. But to win, you also have to rely on your network.
If you handle complex litigation like I do, you are not dealing with routine matrimonial, bankruptcy, or patent matters. But each of these issues has surfaced recently in my business which at first glance may have seemed to have nothing to do with any of these areas. So my colleagues and I have we investigated and researched? Yes. But the work doesn’t stop there. In each case, I called lawyers from my network who specialize in these areas, and they gave me information that I think I would never have had even if I had researched or investigated for dozens of years. more hours.
As a litigator, you can contribute to your network in the same way: this M&A lawyer can know in detail some of the regulations that apply to the work of his clients. But, again, it’s very different how a litigation resulting from the agreement document might play out and what that might mean on what to include in the document right now. Indeed, we now routinely offer a litigation lawyer review to process documents in an attempt to minimize subsequent litigation.
If the big business model works the way it’s supposed to, at least in that regard, and your work in a big business, then great, you’ve got your network. But you don’t need to work with 900 lawyers with offices in 22 cities. Go ahead, meet other lawyers, share your thoughts with them, and they’ll want to share their thoughts with you.
As a father of many children, I appreciate the concept that “it takes a village” to raise a child properly. It also takes a village to be a good litigator: cultivate and then work with your network to win for your clients.
John Balestriere is an entrepreneurial litigator who founded his firm after working as a solicitor and litigator in a small firm. He is a partner at the New York law firm Balestriere Fariello, where he and his colleagues represent domestic and international clients in litigation, arbitration, appeals and investigations. You can reach him by email at [email protected]