Lessons from a Loss

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As a trial lawyer for the past 25 + years, I have been fortunate to try dozens of cases.  Patent cases, commercial business disputes, personal injury matters, auto cases, and many more.  I am fortunate to say I have been on the winning side in most of those cases.  Any trial lawyer that says he or she has never lost a case, has not tried many cases. 

No one wins every time.  Not Patrick Mahomes, not Tom Brady, not Tiger.  But losing still stinks, doesn’t it! That is putting it mildly!  At the end of a trial, in the still moments when the verdict is being read and you are waiting to hear the first answers to the verdict form….time seems to stand still….I can hear my heart beating….adrenaline flowing….you are waiting on every syllable coming from the Court…trying to interpret the next one a millisecond before it becomes speech, to see if the answers to the verdict form the jury just filled out is going your way, or the other.  It is an incredible moment of stress and suspense. 

As I have told many people, our jury system is wonderful, but at times very unpredictable.  I have lost cases I just knew I was going to win.  And I have won cases, I thought for certain I was going to lose.  The last trial that did not go our way was a close one.  A toss-up I thought while waiting for the verdict.  And then, the self-analyzing kicks in. After putting in weeks even months of preparation, you think to yourself what could we have done differently?  What did we miss?  Those are always hard questions to answer.  Often, there really is not an easily identifiable answer.  A lot of it comes down to the folks that end up on the jury.  They go right, when you thought they were going to go left. Sometimes a witness you thought would be great on the stand just falls apart and gives up the case.  Sometimes the great cross examination of the key witness just falls flat for some reason.  But, as in all aspects of life and work, what I think it comes down to most of all is preparation.  And in a trial, you can never prepare enough.  It is never done.  There is always more to do, more to look at, more to consider.  In short, do more.  Go further.  Never, ever quit.  It is advice I have given to my sons many times.  The morning after this last jury came back, I was giving it to the man in the mirror. 

Findlay Craft