There are three key factors that go into us deciding to take a case.
Number One: Do I like the client? I mean like in a broad sense, not like could we hang out and be buddies. Do I believe in their case, do I believe that they are in the right? If we move forward, we’re going to spend the next couple of years working on this case. Are they telling the truth? Is this a person that’s going to hang in there with us? By the same token, it has to be on us to be willing to stick it out as well. If you don’t want to help somebody, when the going gets tough, it’s too easy to just throw it away. You have to really believe in the person and in the case.
Number Two: By this point we’ve already decided that we like this person, we believe this person, we believe in his or her case. Then comes question number two: can we win it? You never know. You can think you’re going to win a case and lose and go in thinking you’re going to lose and come out winning. If you’re doing your job, you can figure out if you have a decent chance.
Number Three: Can it pay? That number is third for several very good reasons. Believing in your client and believing in your case is more important than the question of making it pay. However, “Can you make it pay?” has to be a consideration. We’re a small firm in a small town. We’ll try cases where it’s us against seven other lawyers on the other side. Things like that take a long time.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, either. We always have one or two what we call “justice” cases in our firm. These are cases that we truly believe in. These are cases that, perhaps the damages aren’t entirely evident (or even quantifiable), but justice and attention must be paid. Sometimes these are cases that are set up to fail from the beginning, but it’s not right to just let these things go.