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I think that everyone dreams about winning “the big one,” that one victory that suddenly makes all your years of work worthwhile. For a football player there is the Superbowl. For a writer there is the Pulitzer Prize. For a doctor there is developing a new cure. For an attorney there is winning a big case.
There has been a lot in the news recently about the size of fee awards for successful attorneys, such as Robins, Kaplan’s $569 million in the Minnesota tobacco settlement, or the $179 million in fees and costs being sought in the NASDAQ price-fixing case.
Beyond just the potential of a big payday, however, there is feeling that you are doing something to significantly change the direction of society as well as the personal satisfaction of taking on the challenge, persisting and winning. There is the knowledge that you are not just observing current history, but are making it.
Sure there are problems connected with winning. Your colleagues will always expect you to give the keynote address at their conventions. You’ll have to start researching new off-shore tax shelters to protect your share of the judgement. Newer practitioners will want you to mentor them. Yes, it’s a lot of trouble, but somehow you’ll learn to cope with it.
Long before you have the problems connected with success, however, there are the years of skipped lunches, late nights and missed weekends as you work your way through the countless thousands of factual and legal details that make up the case.
But, even if you are not one of the liaison counsel in a multi-district litigation case, you may still find one of your cases being assigned for coordination or consolidation under Federal Civil Rule 42, Title 28 USC § 1407 or similar state rules or statutes. Or perhaps you will represent a party in a toxic tort, construction defect, product liability or other large, multi-party case. Although you may not specialize in complex litigation, you must still be prepared to be part of a larger litigation team when the need arises.
The legal profession is an information-based profession. Success depends on how thoroughly and swiftly you can obtain, process and present information. Nowhere is this more evident than in handling the volume of documents, parties and issues that a large case involves.
In this issue we will be examining some of the information factors that go into managing complex litigation. We will cover such issues as keeping your clients informed of case developments, maintaining secure communications with your litigation teammates, keeping yourself informed, and coordinating discovery actions.
I hope you find this data useful in your practice. Please let me know what you find most useful and what type of articles you would like to see in future issues. You can reach me at the address on page one, or by e-mail.