So I was reading my RSS feed the other morning, and a Lawyerist post came up: “Three Lessons Lawyers Can Learn From the Muppets.” I read it, partly because I love The Lawyerist, but mostly because I love the Muppets.
Halfway through the post the author mentioned, almost as a throwaway, that we can’t litigate by montage.
Litigation by montage. That’s the best plan ever! Let’s all just agree to litigate by montage. Two months of pre-complaint investigation flies by in mere moments to the tune of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business.” Nine months of initial court paperwork and discovery are done in the 4:08 it takes to get through “Under Pressure” (Queen feat. David Bowie). We can just skip through the summary judgment and the next three months waiting for the order, going through court-ordered mediation, and preparing exhibit lists, jury instructions and a joint statement of the case. Now it’s the eve of trial, just a few minutes after we started. Brilliant!
The problem with my plan, ingenious as it is, is not that we wish we could do it and we can’t, but that clients think we can do it and we can’t. They have been indoctrinated by movies and TV to think that they can walk into our office and have their problems resolved (in their favor) in 22 minutes.
Okay, they don’t believe that, not really. But the problem with litigating by montage is that clients have no idea how long it really does take.
In the end, the only antidote for bad information is good information. They won’t believe it at first, but showing clients a timeline (in civil cases, possibly the informational statement) will help solve the problem. Clients can enjoy watching Boston Legal if they want; just make sure they know it’s not a reality show.