Legal Strategy Sometimes Means Hearing What You Don’t Want to Hear

By Marlo Van Oorschot
Van Oorschot Law Group PC

Everyone is talking about the Rams’ Super Bowl victory.  Not just because they won after a long history of not winning but because of the road that led them to victory. While not a legal strategy, the Rams general manager’s and coach’s decisions demonstrate a strong strategy that assessed the risks along the way. 

 As a whole, the Rams have been waiting for this moment for a long time.  The general manager took the bold steps of hiring the youngest coach in N.F.L. history. Then, instead of hoping first-round draft picks would become stars, the team traded them for proven A-listers. The Rams dealt a quarterback who played in a Super Bowl for the veteran Matthew Stafford, who had never won a playoff game. Under the lead of the general manager, Les Snead, the Rams took a series of smaller risks before marshaling resources into bigger moves. Each risk was assessed by looking at all that could go wrong, weighing the risks in the overall goal, and then acting boldly understanding where things could go wrong. This was a well-planned strategy.

Acknowledging Risks of Loss Move You toward Success

Nobody wants to hear the word “no” or that they will “lose” or that they cannot do something. This is human nature. Unfortunately, losses and limitations occur in life and they occur in sports and legal matters, too. We all know that; we just don’t like it.

Knowing that losses can and do occur, some people still expect their lawyers to be their cheerleaders – to cheer and encourage them even in the face of possible defeat; to tell them how they will “win.” In fact, some people think that if a lawyer does anything less than tell them how they will “win,” that the lawyer is not their advocate; the lawyer is not “on their side.”  Putting aside the fact that lawyers are not permitted to promise results, hearing the chant of success from your lawyer is not a legal strategy.  Sure, encouragement and support are important and good and effective leadership skills, but it is not a strategy.

A Legal Strategy

A legal strategy, like any business or sports strategy, is to consider and plan for the risks that could be faced while considering your wishes, desires, and alternatives. A legal strategy also requires the understanding (to the extent known), the other party’s wishes, desires, and alternatives; and also, to understand the law and what a judge may and may not decide. Examining all angles of a matter, therefore, means considering the possible harmful or less desirable outcomes, whether the matter is handled through a negotiated agreement or litigation. While it is not a pleasurable experience to think about the risks of loss, it is critical. How else can one plan for the risks that are inherent in most decision things in life including legal matters?

Hearing what you may not want to hear and then making a plan to minimize the intolerable risks to the extent possible is critical in legal matters, just as it is in business or sports. Our work as a Divorce Legal Strategist™ means we carefully evaluate the issues our clients face including where we believe we can achieve success, where we believe we will face risks, and developing a plan with our clients to move toward success.