Herding Cats Fabian Icci


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Slides presented at various locations by Richard Fabian, General Counsel of RiverStone Resources, re litigation management in complex litigated disputes.

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  • Discuss the three prongs – cost effective, control of risks, advancing toward acceptable outcomes.
  • These concepts should inform the rest of what you do.
  • Yep does not add to 100
  • Note focus on winning
  • In order of number of responses add Kaching for when its over. Not unpredictability for clients and unmanageable for lawyers;
  • Could argue communication
  • For corporate opponent consider pressures facing them. Positions and insurance company may take are very different from those a policyholder may take.
  • What you do unto them, they may do unto you.
  • Herding Cats Fabian Icci

    1. 1. Herding Cats: Litigation Management of Complex Disputes. Richard J. Fabian Senior Vice President General Counsel Director, Litigation
    2. 2. Litigation Management: <ul><li>Controlling the risks attendant to an adversarial proceeding in a cost effective manner while simultaneously advancing toward specific acceptable outcomes. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Most important concepts: <ul><li>Control Risk </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Money? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Damage to ongoing business? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Creation of bad precedent? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Cost control </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency is key. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Need to do what needs to be done. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Advance toward an acceptable outcome </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Define goals. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Define strategy to achieve goals. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Implement strategy with persistent, yet adaptable, focus. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Litigation Management: The Client Perspective <ul><li>Responses from in house litigation managers. </li></ul><ul><li>Three most important concepts </li></ul><ul><li>(What litigation managers pray for) : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thoughtfulness/Strategy: 28% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication: 20% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency/Cost Control: 18% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competence and Responsiveness also important </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. The most important thing an attorney can do to improve litigation management is to… <ul><li>Clients say: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set and communicate clear goals/understand case. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain focus on strategy to achieve goals. </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>Responses from attorneys. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Our warriors) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Three most important concepts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication: 32% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thoughtfulness/Strategy: 15% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Winning: 15% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Competence (9%); Execution (9%). </li></ul>Litigation Management: The Attorney Perspective
    7. 7. The most important thing a client can do to further effective litigation management is to… <ul><li>Attorneys say: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly communicate deadlines and strategy. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. The worst thing about litigation is… <ul><li>Clients: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad judges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unpredictability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unreasonable people </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Attorneys: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad judges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unmanageability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inefficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WHEN IT$ OVER! </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Interesting to note. <ul><li>Attorneys ranked “winning” in third place. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clients did not talk about winning as such, but did focus on goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clients ranked “cost control” third. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attorneys ranked this much lower or not at all. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. COMMUNICATION <ul><li>Both attorneys and clients rank this as the first or second most important concept. </li></ul><ul><li>The single item most in need of IMPROVEMENT, according to both attorneys and clients? </li></ul><ul><li>COMMUNICATION!! </li></ul>
    11. 11. Communication <ul><li>What does it mean? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly delineated goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly delineated expectations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly delineated deadlines and guidelines. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No surprises. Give the good and bad news. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the problems and give solutions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It means …Listening. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Suit <ul><li>So you have a suit … </li></ul><ul><li>Often multiple parties. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider synergies and cost control possibilities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also consider complications of group dynamics. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Team should talk about the case as soon as possible. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Initial Triage <ul><li>What is the case about? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there anything that MUST be dealt with right away? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Removal? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approaching or past response date? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improper service? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do we know? How bad is it? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any strategic issues presented? </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate staffing? </li></ul><ul><li>Venue? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Who’s Who? <ul><li>Very important to know the case players. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes ALL participants. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposing management. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include consideration of “Corporate opponent.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jury Pool. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposing counsel. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Contact with Opposing Counsel. <ul><li>Opinions vary on value or propriety of this. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good to know what fight is about. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sets up line of communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Are there opportunities for an early resolution? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Next Steps <ul><li>After triage is complete, a comprehensive review is necessary. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Resolve any interpretation issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider strategic issues. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review the file materials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What facts are known about the claim? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Highlight any known problem areas. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What law(s) are applicable? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formulate goals. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Goals <ul><li>Formulating clear goals is the most important step. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carefully consider law and facts as they exist, not as you wish they were. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always consider strategic issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goal is to “win” … right? </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Redefining “Winning.” <ul><li>What does it mean to “win”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get a verdict? Make law? Show conviction? Resolve uncertainty? Eliminate risk? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Counsel and client should discuss and agree on this before proceeding with the litigation. </li></ul><ul><li>This discussion should frame your goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Be realistic. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Goal one: Get rid of the Dogs! <ul><li>Recognize the problematic cases. </li></ul><ul><li>Fully understand why they are problematic. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus action to quickly resolve the dog cases as favorably as possible. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Implement strategy <ul><li>Formalize plans and goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing communication required. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Formal (scheduled) and informal. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Periodic review and critical assessment of goals. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider changed case circumstances. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Track deadlines and tasks. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Includes in house managers. </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. The Resolution and Litigation plans. <ul><li>They are not the same </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution plan: how the dispute will be resolved. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May contemplate settlement, motion practice, trial, arbitration or begging. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Litigation plan: how the case will be won in the courtroom if it really must be litigated. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often key litigation events are part of the resolution plan. </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Achieving goals <ul><li>All effort should be focused on goals at all times. </li></ul><ul><li>Impediments to goal achievement - inside and outside - must be eliminated. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay particular attention to problem areas. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When in doubt ask clients. </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Mocking it. <ul><li>Mock arguments, trials, mediations and appellate arguments are VERY useful. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused preparation is key. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not be afraid to test arguments or themes early on in case. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is often better to loose the mocks, especially the early ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adapt and use what you learn. </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Problem Areas <ul><li>Corporate depositions. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation must be thorough and timely. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluate and plan for difficult areas. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluate and plan for problem documents. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Comprehensive review of all contracts is necessary. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider strategic implications of subject matter. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Will deposition be videotaped? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What subject matter is fair game? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be aware of recent case law re: scope of 30b6 etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Notice may NOT limit scope. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Problem Areas <ul><li>Discovery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a plan that supports the goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If working within a defense group, have a mechanism to track progress. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-discovery issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Know what your client has in place. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Know the rules. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>REVIEW what you produce. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Have a mechanism to reclaim inadvertently disclosed material. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any questions – talk to manager. </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Problem Areas <ul><li>CMOs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure you can get done what needs to be done or fight EARLY for more time. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carefully track deadlines. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have the right ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get them involved early. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make SURE you have rights to use them if working within a defense group. </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Problem Areas <ul><li>Deadlines. Hit them. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are multiple layers of review or authority within an insurance organization. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the manager’s job easier. You will get more work. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Writing. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some people are better writers than others, use them. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proof the work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Well written work earns a solid reputation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allow ample time for manager’s review and revision. Some do, some do not. </li></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Resolution <ul><li>Ultimate goal is a commercially acceptable resolution. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Resolution may be imposed or negotiated. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conduct a post mortem after resolution. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider what went wrong AND what went right. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider improve ments. </li></ul>
    29. 29. P.S. <ul><li>NO cats were harmed during the making of this presentation. </li></ul>