All of us solo and small firm lawyers have experience with those “dog” cases that drive us crazy and often lose us money in the process. This article, Spotting the Losers, James McElhaney (ABA Journal June 2005) offers some ways to clear the duds off your desk – or pass off cases that may not be valuable to you to another firm that could profit from them. But what I liked best about this article, was the conclusion. Because even though so many of us have lost money off cases or been burned by difficult clients, the author eloquently reminds us that sometimes, we take a loser case because it’s the right thing to do:
Finally, don’t carry any of these ideas to excess. There are some law firms that have the reputation of taking only ‘perfect’ cases with wonderful clients who never act difficult and who always make a good impression with the judge and jury. Some of these firms never take on a hard case or represent an annoying client for any reason. They are lawyers who never know the satisfaction of having made a contribution to the development of the law, or never feel the pride of having given some of their time to make the world a little more fair.
Not every deserving case is a popular cause or earns a big fee,” said Angus. “There are times when you need to take the albatross that walks in your office just because it’s the right thing to do.”