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  • David Redding


The Litigator’s Mission is to Prepare for Trial in order to Resolve Disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible. This mission statement contains both the thing that Litigators do (the what) which is Prepare for Trial and the purpose for doing it (the why) which is to Resolve Disputes.

The remainder of the Litigator’s Mission statement, as quickly and efficiently as possible, is a modifier of both the what and the why

While that modifier is integral to the Mission, I didn’t include it in the original formulation—for two reasons.

First, it is contrary to the method of mission-writing that I was taught in the military, which is that a mission statement must be short, powerful and free of anything that obscures or dilutes its impact. That meant that there should almost never be any adjectives or adverbs, because the nouns and verbs a leader chooses for his mission statement should be clear enough on their own merits. Thus, “quickly” and “efficiently” both being adverbs, they should have no place in the statement of the Litigator’s Mission.

Second, as quickly and efficiently as possible is essentially an expression of a standard, and as such it is not a very good one. Ideally, standards are objective measures of performance or behavior and are most useful when stated in a form that is both binary and bereft of subjective determination.

As quickly and efficiently as possible is neither of those things.

There is no objective measure of “quick” or “efficient” and who is to say what is “possible” under a set of circumstances?

Ten Litigators could have ten different opinions about that. And, even if they did agree that a particular Dispute was Resolved quickly and efficiently, the odds are high that the client (the CL) wouldn’t agree at all. Because he has no frame of reference, the Litigation process will always be too long and costly for the CL, particularly since he is the one who has to pay for it.

For those two reasons, I initially left as quickly and efficiently as possible out of the original configuration of the Litigator’s Mission. But as I continued to develop my Litigator’s Foundation, I began to realize that the statement was incomplete because it was possible to Prepare for Trial slowly and inefficiently. In fact, in my experience, it was more common than not for Resolution to take too long and cost too much—and that was non-Missional.

Which meant that the mission statement did need a standard related to time and cost, otherwise it was not of much use. This led me to look for an objective standard to insert into the mission statement.

But that proved impossible because Litigation is a game of at least five players, only one of whom is under the Litigator’s direct control—himself

The other four players, the CL, the AP (Adverse Party), the OC (Opposing Counsel) and the Court, are outside of the Litigator’s control; and their emotions, competence level and relative tendency toward Complication Hockey are all factors that will prolong Litigation and render Resolution less quick and efficient than it should be. Because the Litigator can (at best) merely influence the other four players, he can only achieve Resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible under the circumstances.

The Litigator exerts this influence primarily through the heat that is generated by the Adversarial Confrontation (the AdCon) as he moves along the Critical Path of Litigation. While bad for car engines and snowmen, heat is good for Disputes. It both clarifies the mind of the AP so that he can more rationally determine whether compromise is in his best interest and incentivizes the OC to engage in meaningful Settlement negotiations.

Without heat, the AP and the OC (if he is a Processor) will generally procrastinate Resolution

The more Missional a Litigator is, the more heat he will generate as early as possible in the process. Heat produces discomfort that renders procrastination less palatable than Resolution.

Lawyers who are not Missional are a drag on Resolution for two reasons. First, they do not produce heat on their own and second, they engage in Complications that force the Litigator to divert Litigation-energy away from the Critical Path.

To be Missional then, the Litigator must be prepared to not only produce as much heat as possible by Preparing for Trial as quickly as possible, he must also be ready to overcome the drag created by his non-Missional OC. Whether he has done that in a particular case is a subjective determination that he must make for himself.

If the answer is no, then he has some work to do on his Foundation.

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