Most attorneys know that an intelligent client and an intelligent lawyer, by working together, can rationalize and defend just about anything. This has a great “narrowing effect” in litigation. Cases that might have seemed self-evident and one-sided when the client entered into the attorney’s office may become close calls when one receives the other side’s response. This “narrowing effect” occurs for at least three reasons:
- A good lawyer may “change the issue” away from a weaker position,
- Lawyers are experts at explaining away bad facts and focusing on and turning a few good facts into powerful arguments; and
- Judges and juries can only know the “truth” as they hear and perceive it. Sometimes, the “real truth” gets lost in the system because the judge or jury does not completely understand what happened nor its consequences. Or the judge or jury is overcome by a good lawyer’s marshaling of the facts and prejudices into a persuasive argument.
Lawyers know this. Transaction lawyers in a strong bargaining position and litigators with a strong case recognize that a good deal or case may go downhill because someone did not grasp the real truth of the situation. A bad deal may be improved by the lawyer’s subtle revisions of the contract.
For these reasons, with a little luck and a good attorney, even a bad deal may be salvaged or improved and a bad case won or settled on favorable terms. An important point here is that sometimes “winning” is achieving a much better outcome than the worst case scenario.
In some cases, however, the evidence is so clearly against you (e.g. a collection suit on a promissory note) that your attorney’s goal should be to get the best settlement terms possible. Beyond that, the attorney may just “running up the clock” to increase the size of the bill. An ethical attorney will advise you about this.