Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Lessons in losing

Michael Siri//May 10, 2011

Lessons in losing

By Michael Siri

//May 10, 2011

I recently received an order from the court telling me that I was on the unhappy side of a ruling. This was a great shock to me. To set the record straight, I practice law very pragmatically.

In litigation, depending on the set of facts and the relevant law, a case (or motion, or hearing) can be categorized into three areas: winner, loser, or toss up. In the motion that I argued, all signs pointed to a big, fat ‘W.’ Unfortunately, the court did not see it that way.

Further, in lieu of providing a basis for the decision, the court (or in this case, the law clerk) informed the parties that an order would be issued in a couple of days.

So now I am left to wonder, what, if anything, did I miss? Did I even miss anything? Was it a technicality or something substantive?

(To again set the record straight, every attorney has won a case that they should have lost or lost a case that they should have won, at no fault of their own. Maybe through a sympathetic jury or a misapplication of the law, or plain bad luck, it happens and, if you have not experienced it yet, you haven’t practiced long enough.)

Winning (and winning when you are not supposed to win) hides all blemishes of one’s handling of a case. As attorneys, we are trained to exhaust every avenue and, in court, are occasionally asked to make determinations within seconds that may affect the outcome of our client’s case. But if you end up with the win, one rarely second guesses their decision.

However, when the big ‘L’ is slapped across your forehead, it is an opportunity to look back and see what you did wrong. Use it as a learning experience. Once the opinion comes back, I can look back at what way, if any, I could have approached the motion differently.

And the next time I am in a similar position, I can use my past failures to hopefully have more success  (though it helps to have the law on your side and the facts on your side and a sympathetic client and good luck……).


Networking Calendar

Submit an entry for the business calendar