THE LITIGATOR'S MISSION
Updated: Apr 28
Understanding that the purpose of Litigation is to resolve Disputes told me why a Litigator does what he does, but it didn’t help me with the other part of my question:
What is a Litigator supposed to do?
To answer that, I looked first to outside sources, but didn’t find much. For example, under my professional creed I had pledged to offer “competence, faithfulness, diligence, and good judgment” and to represent the client as he would want to be represented.
Those are fine ideals that should be upheld by all lawyers, but they don’t provide any concrete guidance toward action. Neither the lawyer’s creed, nor anything else I could find, defined for me what a Litigator is supposed to do to resolve Disputes.
Finding no external authority for the Litigator’s what, I saw no choice but to define it for myself
That meant that I was going to have to write my own mission statement. A mission statement provides both a what and a why to human endeavors by specifying the task that is to be accomplished and the purpose for which it is to be undertaken. In the military I was taught that it was foolish to initiate action without a clearly stated mission. At best, the result would be confusion and wasted energy—at worst, disaster. My experiences as soldier bore that lesson out. The more clearly defined the mission, the better the result of the undertaking.
I have found the same to be true in my post-service life, where a clear mission statement is by far the exception rather than the norm. This does not really surprise me, given that it takes training to properly define a mission and discipline to see it through, and neither is prevalent in the civilian world. It certainly isn’t in the lawyer-world, which is why the problem of ineffective Litigation needed to be solved. And the solution had to start with mission.
Because I had previously determined that Litigation exists to bring a firm and final end to the intractable legal controversies between people that are inevitable in a democracy, I already knew the why/purpose portion of my mission statement: to resolve Disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible.
I also knew that that the quickest and most efficient way for people to achieve Resolution is to advance their Claims to trial, because that leads to Judgment, Settlement or unilateral surrender—the set of finite outcomes that firmly and finally end a Dispute.
But, as I had quickly learned after law school, Litigation is a path too complex for people to navigate without a skilled advocate to guide them through the process. Just as Litigation exists because people cannot resolve their own Disputes without a process, Litigators exist because people cannot prepare for trial on their own. This is the what/task that the Litigator performs for his client, he prepares for trial.
By combining the Litigator’s what/task with the why/purpose of Litigation, I formulated the Litigator’s Mission: to prepare for trial in order to Resolve Disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible
This was a big step in my quest to solve my problem of ineffective Litigation, for three reasons:
· it helped me understand what a Litigator must be—a highly skilled advocate whose primary goal is to reach Resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible;
· it pointed me to what a Litigator must know in order to accomplish his goal; and
· it guided me toward what a Litigator must do by directing the actions he takes toward the advancement of his client’s Claims and protecting him from the temptation to expend Litigation-energy on anything that does not lead directly to a quick and efficient Resolution.
_______________________________  Taken from the Lawyer’s Professionalism Creed, North Carolina Judicial Branch.