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Litigating Like a Ninja Can We Apply Ninjutsu Principles to Litigation
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Litigating Like a Ninja Can We Apply Ninjutsu Principles to Litigation


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  • 1. Intellectual Property & Complex Litigation. 15 lawyers (13 patent attorneys).
  • 2. “[T]he whole point of ninjutsu is to use your body effectively – whether you are fat or thin short or tall. You don‟t need speed – in fact speed can work against you. What you need is the ability to predict your opponents move and outthink him. By calm and steady movements you gain control of the enemy and ultimately the fight. … Much of ninjutsu is about foot movement and natural positioning. It is this which allows the ninja to retain his balance in all manner of unusual situations.”
  • 3. More People Using 'Ninja' As Their Job Title On LinkedIn, By Will Harper Wed., May 12 2010 at 2:30 PM
  • 4. 'Litigation ninjas' top list of best D.C. law firms Friday - 8/6/2010, 5:34am ET ( WASHINGTON - A top careers Web site has ranked two Washington D.C. law firms among the best in the country. ... has released its Law Firm Rankings list, which was compiled by surveying lawyers and law students on various U.S. law firms. Williams & Connolly was the top ranked firm in the Washington, D.C. region, finishing seventh overall. Survey respondents called Williams & Connolly lawyers "top-notch litigators," even going so far as to call them "litigation ninjas."
  • 5.    The historical origin of Japanese martial arts can be found in the warrior traditions of the samurai. The martial arts developed in Japan are extraordinarily diverse, with vast differences in training tools, methods, and philosophy across innumerable schools and styles. The ninja, using covert methods of waging war, were contrasted with the samurai, who had strict rules about honor and combat.
  • 7.     A ninja (忍者) or shinobi (忍び) was a covert agent or mercenary specializing in unorthodox arts of war. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat. Ninjas have been associated in the public imagination with activities that might be considered criminal. However, the Ninja were not particularly warlike. They were constantly harassed by the ruling society of Japan. They learned to act more efficiently in self-defense. The Ninja‟s sometimes devious tactics were seen by some as cowardly. From the Ninja point of view, however, guerrilla warfare was plain good sense.
  • 8.    The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as Bushidō. While they numbered less than 10% of Japan's population, samurai teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in martial arts. Most samurai were bound by a code of honor and were expected to set an example for those below them. While there are many romanticized characterizations of samurai behavior, studies indicate that the samurai were as practical on the battlefield as were any other warrior. Samurai could be disloyal and treacherous, cowardly, brave, or overly loyal.
  • 9.   “How to be a Ninja,” http://www.wikihow .com/Be-a-Ninja (11 steps) A. Cummins & Y. Minami, “True Path of the Ninja” (translation of 17th century instruction manual)
  • 10.  Decide upon a series of ideas, morals & philosophies that you truly can live by. Contrary to popular belief, ninjas were not always coldblooded killers that simply did things samurai refused to do.   Make a complete commitment to advocate your client‟s case, but – Also make a full commitment to abide by the rules of professional conduct.
  • 11.  Know the Ninja skills. According to Bujinkan members Ninja Jūhakkei, the eighteen disciplines (jūhakkei < jūhachi-kei) were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū. They include sword techniques, pyrotechnics, geography, disguise and impersonation, etc.   As a litigator, learn the rules of evidence. Review and study them from time to time. As a trial lawyer, master the skills of presenting evidence.
  • 12.  Changing your Appearance (henge no ron). Like a good actor, the ninja can assume the guise of any alter ego. (E.g., blacken teeth with iron, change shape of hairline, apply pigments to face.)   Develop your individual style, butAdapt your techniques to the particular case, judge, witness, etc.
  • 13.  Master self control. A true Ninja is a master of his or her environment, which consequently requires one to be in control of one's self. If one cannot master self, one cannot master others or his or her own surroundings.   Litigators need to exercise self control at all times. There is a tremendous advantage to retaining self control in fastpaced situations.
  • 14.  Two- or three-man Shinobi teams (Futari Shinobi no Koto, San‟nin Shinobi no Koto). “It is more difficult to do two-man teams than it is to do solo shinobi activities. To do this successfully, the two men should act with their minds together as one and make sure that there are no misunderstandings … between them. … It is necessary for all members of the team to be skilled.”    Litigators and trial lawyers rely on teamwork. The litigation team‟s minds must be “as one.” All members of the team must be skilled!
  • 15.  Know how to escape. No matter where you are, know how to get out of the situation as quickly and as anonymously (unseen) as possible. This is a critical skill for a ninja, especially when performing missions. When you enter a room, always be aware of every potential (possible) exit, and have plans in place for how you can create a diversion if necessary.    Minor mistakes are inevitable. Unexpected twists are inevitable. Litigators should always evaluate their positions and consider how to correct any problems.
  • 16.  Reading Someone‟s Character by His Face (Ninso wo Shiru Koto). “[Y]ou must observe the person‟s posture, movements, voice, face color, and expressions.” (E.g., tip of nose, mouth, chin, space between hairline and eyebrows.) “It is fundamental for a shinobi to observe the opponent as carefully as possible …”    All lawyers should learn to read witnesses and other people. Litigators should try to read judges. Trial lawyers must learn to read jurors.
  • 17.  How to Get Into Other People‟s Minds (Mumon no Ikkan). “Try to get them talking about similar topics to the one that you investigating. … A good shinobi can analyze other people‟s mind without letting them know that they have been analyzed. … [Y]ou should completely master … the skill of flattery to gain knowledge. By using this technique, you can steal into the opponent‟s mind with great ease ….”   Develop your individual style, butAdapt your techniques to the particular case, judge, witness, etc.
  • 18.  How to Avoid Defeating Other People (Hito wo Yabarazaru no Narai). Ninjas need to learn to curb the instinct to win „points‟ over the enemy. “Be aware that the four principles of conversation (hard, strong, soft, and weak) need to be used in each of their appropriate balances. … You can take advantage by utilizing the opponent‟s words and attitude against him only when you have full confidence in your own work.”    Avoid the impulse to score “points”. Remember to use different types of conversation at different times. To cross-examine effectively, you must fully understand your case.
  • 19.  Knowing the Difference Between Reason and Cleverness (Doti to Riko to Shirubeki Koto). “True reasoning is vast and extensive; it is somehow humble and unpretentious but also very explicit when heard. If you use reason to see through situations, and then use cleverness in your plots to beguile people, … you will be a very skillful shinobi.”    It is essential to have sound themes in a case. Effective themes are simple yet specific to your case. “True reasoning” requires an deep understanding of your case.
  • 20.  Managing Your Mind and Managing Your Reason (Kokoro no Osame Ri ni Ataru Koto). “Always try to restore your spirit … . It is essential to make your mind, spirit, and chi strong. … [I]f you neglect to nourish your true mind properly, you will run out of energy, get tired, and will end up falling at the last moment. The faint-hearted cannot serve as true shinobi soldiers!”    Counsel and clients must believe in the merits of the case. The faint-hearted cannot prevail at trial or in litigation. Especially at trial, take time to recharge energies.
  • 21.     BONUS Samurai Principle: Ihtaram – A Civil Code. “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite. – Sir Winston Churchill. Most practitioners of the martial arts are familiar with the saying that karate begins and ends with respect. The observance of proper courtesy – literally courtly behavior – was a vital skill for the samurai. Trained fighters have an obligation to begin and end with respect.     The samurai had this right. Show respect to opposing counsel – not always easy. Take him or her to lunch after the case is over. Litigation should begin and end with respect.