I recommend everyone interested in this blog check out Stewart Weltman’s Lean and Mean Litigation blog. While it does not address qui tam or false claims practice in particular, its focus on efficient litigation practices is invaluable to those interested in qui tam practice.
Weltman’s blog ranges over a wide variety matters relevant to trial practice, from effective deposition techniques to the psychology of litigation, but in my mind one point is woven throughout his blog: in litigation, just like in any other competitive professional endeavor, lawyers who want to win cases focus on the fundamentals, because they know that the case is won or lost on those basic elements of this profession.
By that I mean the following.
People who really know football will agree, I think, that every football team in the NFL has basically equal talent. I know, not every quarterback is Dan Marino, and not every running back is Barry Sanders, but no one gets into the NFL without having a rare combination of skills and abilities, and on any given day, any team in the NFL has the ability to beat the daylights out of any other given team.
On the other hand, if you matched the very worst professional team against the very best Division I college team, I would put my money on the pros, and I think most people would agree with me. The disparity in skill and ability would be too great for the college team to compete.
But in a competition between two professional teams, the side that executes better on the fundamentals will and does win. If an NFL team with 12 straight losses plays an undefeated team, and the undefeated team proceeds to throw three interceptions and fumble the ball twice, they are almost certainly not going to win.
The legal profession, in my estimation, is more like the NFL. There are certainly a wide variety of skill levels present in the legal community, but at the end of the day anyone with a law license and a little experience can successfully get a case resolved against the best there is if they focus on the fundamentals, avoid sloppy mistakes, and work hard.
I have never met a lawyer that was not intelligent enough to handle a case well. I have met many, many lawyers who were too lazy to handle a case well. I have heard that the three most feared words in any lawyer’s vocabulary are “pro se litigant.” I can see the logic behind that, but I submit that the words “lazy opposing counsel” are right behind pro se litigants.
A lazy opposing counsel who fails to take the time to understand his or her case fails to be able to accurately assess the situation, fails to work with the other side in narrowing the issues for trial, and fails to be of any use whatsoever to his or her client. In my view, they also fail to live up to their oath as officers of the Court.
At any rate, if more people litigated cases the way Stewart Weltman describes, disputes between parties would be resolved more efficiently, litigants would spent less money on litigation, our court dockets would be less crowded, and life as a litigator would be much easier. Please check his blog out.
Zachary A. Kitts
Cook & Kitts, PLLC
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