Hackard Law - Estate Planning
Call for free initial consultation.


We speak Spanish and Russian.

Legal Experience: Keep it Simple, Smartypants

Amazing Lawyer.jpg

Simplicity in argument, pleading and direct examination is the hallmark of some of America's greatest plaintiff lawyers. Simplicity's polar opposites - ambiguity, complexity and confusion - are the tools of some of our country's most aggressive and successful defense lawyers. Okay - again, simplicity for plaintiffs - ambiguity, complexity and confusion for defendants. Is this clear? Not always.

Within the last few days I reviewed a new lawyer's complaint alleging damages against a landowner stemming from a small problem between the landowner and his tenant. So how does a rookie lawyer handle minor problem coupled with minimal damages - issues that might have been easily resolved with a letter? Well, it looks like he found the thickest formbook in sight and filed a complaint with twenty-five or so causes of action. Twenty-five!

While the lawyer's thought process is not elaborated in this voluminous pleading, I can make an educated guess as to its workings. How would I know? Because I did some similar things in the past. If his thoughts are like mine of almost forty years ago, they might run thus:

Wait until the landowner sees this three-inch pile of papers. He will know that I am a serious lawyer with twenty-five different ways to bring him to justice.

Perhaps an unsophisticated landowner will think that. A sophisticated lawyer will not. The ricochet doctrine is in full effect here - if the rookie lawyer keeps his magnum opus in play, he will later have to explain to a rather irritated trial judge how the landowner's failure to repair a sink makes him a member of a criminal syndicate intent on preventing sink repairs throughout the land. Or better yet, the rookie can explain to a jury (this case would never go to a jury, but just the same) how valuable time given to the state as civic duty for jury service is spent on repairing a sink.

The old saying that "good judgment comes from experience and experience from bad judgment," is especially relevant in such circumstances. Lawyering, like any occupation or profession, benefits from mentorship and shared experience. This particular lawyer - seemingly intent on felling a forest for the benefit of his well-weighted paper pleading - could next time ask a colleague with some years behind him whether a "kitchen sink" pleading is wise. This might just spare some trees, as well as the client's pocketbook. Otherwise he's in for an embarrassing lesson.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Rated By Super Lawyers Michael A.Hackard SuperLawyers.com AV PREEMINENT Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorney Litigation Million Dollar Advocates Forum Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum Top Attorneys In Sacramento Lead Counsel | LC | Rated Hackard Law A Professional Law Corporation BBB Business Review Best Real Estate
Lawyers in

*AV Preeminent is a certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters.