On September 23, 2014, Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers gave his fans some great advice, “Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.” While Aaron Rogers was talking about the Packers’ football season, I strive to apply this advice to my litigation practice on a daily basis.
It has been my experience that the amount of stress I inflict on myself rarely changes the outcome of a case. In addition, it would seem that, more often than not, everything has a way of working itself out. With this in mind, I would like to offer a few observations that may help relieve some of your stress, should you be the client or the attorney.
There is an exception to every rule. It is true, the statute of frauds requires that all contracts for the sale of real property must be in writing and signed by the party to be charged. While this is a straightforward rule, there are dozens upon dozens of published court opinions that discuss a myriad of equitable exceptions to this rule. The same is true of the statute of limitations. That pesky discovery rule makes any limitation defense a long shot. The practice of law is often about creating and exploiting exceptions. With this in mind, try not to panic when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. There will usually be an exception to exploit.
There will usually be more time. When I first started practicing law, I stressed out over every single deadline on my calendar. I recall once going into a partner’s office, covered in sweat, and explaining how the world was going to end because discovery responses were due the next day and I just got the case. He didn’t say anything to me. He took the file, picked up the phone and called opposing counsel. Five minutes later I was drafting a Rule 11 Agreement extending our response deadline out an additional thirty days. I have learned that most attorneys will work together in the name of fairness. It is not because attorneys are giving people, it is because attorneys all believe in Karma. There is the unspoken understanding that I must give additional time to others because one day I too will need more time.
Motions are not about winning or losing, they are about advancing the ball. This one may sound a bit odd, and I am still collecting data, but initial returns suggest that filing a motion is a great way to make things happen, but rarely is it a game changer. Here are some quick examples to illustrate my point: 1) Motion to Compel – the parties either agree before the hearing or at the hearing. If the judge actually has to get involved, be ready to produce everything; 2) Motion for Summary Judgment – if there is a way for the judge to grant a partial summary judgment, that is the best the movant should hope to achieve. Granting a Motion for Summary Judgment may get a judge overturned, but denying one will not; 3) Motion for Sanctions – whether brought separately or included within another motion, the possibility of sanctions scare everyone, but they are rarely awarded. In Texas, we elect our judges. The judges get campaign money from attorneys. A judge who gets a reputation for handing out sanctions is going to have a hard time raising campaign funds. Sanctions only get awarded if there has been egregious conduct or if the attorney is from another county (I’m joking – sort of).
I hope I have given you some good reasons to relax. If not, I am not going to worry about it.
Written By: Jacob Thomas
Saunders, Walsh & Beard is a business and litigation law firm in McKinney, Texas. Formed in 2012, today SWB has more than 16 attorneys. The firm assists individuals and businesses with commercial, business and tort litigation, construction law, corporate and partnership formation and expansion, employment law, insurance disputes, judgment collection, personal jurisdiction, and real estate. We believe the client’s “experience” is of paramount importance. Explore our practice areas and see why the attorneys of Saunders, Walsh & Beard are ranked by their clients and peers as among the best in their fields.