Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give Your Retail Clients a Break This Holiday Season: Ease Up on Discovery Requests, Deposition Scheduling, Etc.

As lawyers, we can be pretty single-minded. After all, we have a job to do - protect our clients' interests. As litigators, one of our key jobs is to move discovery along. There are deadlines to observe, answers to get, documents to retrieve, etc. However, a single-mindedness possessed by counsel concerning discovery can sometimes interfere with his or her clients' business interests. In this blog entry, I'm specificially thinking about case management during the holiday season for those attorneys representing retailers.

From late November through the end of December, it is the busiest time of year for retailers. Despite what they say on television or in the newspapers about the economy, the stores are still packed with customers, looking for gifts for their loved ones, friends, etc. Accordingly, retailers need all hands on deck who are focused on serving their customers. What they don't need are associates sitting in depositions or doing document/email searches. What this means for lawyers who represent these retailers is that they need to lay off their clients as much as possible during these crucial weeks. To that end, see what you can do to postpone depositions until early January. Find out if you can get an extension on that discovery. Unless there is some sort of court order mandating attendance at a proceeding or completion of a particular activity, most things can wait.

Understanding your clients' business endears them to you. To the contrary, making their lives difficult during the time of year where their profitability depends on performance may make them seek other counsel the next time around.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Attorney's Truest Desire: To Be a "Trusted Business Advisor"

I defend lawsuits for a living.  However, one of the things I do for our retail and hospitality clients that I like very much has nothing to do with active litigation. 

On any given week, I spend several hours working with our institutional clients, analyzing claims or potential claims, and creating game plans for keeping these matters out of litigation if possible.  These clients have developed a relationship with me to the level that they feel comfortable to pick up the phone to chew over these cases to determine the best course of action before litigation erupts. Some times, the advice is to fight it out - some suits cannot be avoided due to a claimant's settlement expectations, the existence of fraud, etc.  Other times, it is to settle.  Regardless of resolution strategy, my focus at this stage is on developing a way forward that is cost effective, time efficient, and protects the interests of the client and its brand identity. 

When we have these talks, there isn't any meter running for this time, no bills to the client.  If the case falls into litigation, we'll handle it.  However, the greater fixation for me on the front end is to be the "trusted business advisor" to help devise a solution that avoids the time, expense, inconvenience, and unpleasantness connected with litigation.  Our retailers and hospitality-related clients aren't in the business of defending lawsuits.  We understand that and do what we can to enable them to stay focused on their core businesses.

Nothing makes my day more than hearing from a client who is calling to run something by me.   And I am always glad to help.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nominees for South Carolina Court of Appeals Chief Judge Seat Selected

The Judicial Merit Selection Commission have selected circuit judge John Few of Greenville, Paul Short of Chester, and Daniel Pieper of Charleston, both judges on the Court of Appeals, as nominees for the Chief Judge's position at the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Legislators will elect one of the three during judicial elections next spring. Legislators will elect one of the three during judicial elections next year.

Full story: Greenville's John Few nominated for chief judge of appeals court greenvilleonline.com The Greenville News (view on Google Sidewiki)

From Greenville News: 5 years After Deadly Comfort Inn Fire, New Effort Planned to Make Hotels Safer

Interesting article in today's (11/03/09) Greenville News regarding deadly fire at Comfort Inn in Greenville in 2004. Six guests died at the hotel, while others saved themselves by jumping from windows three stories high.The Comfort Inn didn’t have sprinklers, and a clerk turned off the fire alarm the first time it sounded. The Comfort Inn rebuilt and now is among the six hotels in the Wade Hampton fire district that have sprinklers.