Choosing the Battlefield – Part I

Where to hold a legal event?

The other day in court, I observed two lawyers arguing about where mediation should take place. The first lawyer, from a prestigious Florida law firm, argued that the mediation should not occur at the plaintiff’s office because the facilities there were not comfortable enough; therefore, it should be held at a court reporter’s office. The other lawyer, from a respected boutique, argued that the mediation should be held in plaintiff’s office because that where all mediations are held. The judge didn’t immediately decide the motion because he directed the parties to work something out. The key fact in the analysis is that the two suggested locations were only one block apart. Did the location of the mediation really make that much difference?

Selection of the Ground

The choice of the location for a legal event, whether it be lawsuit, deposition, mediation, or anything else, is often contested by both sides (as shown by the above example.) Master Sun Tzu teaches that the selection of the ground to fight upon is one of the key analyses that a commander must decide. Indeed, two of the thirteen chapters in the Art of War are devoted to instructions about analyzing terrain and types of ground. Thus, how does the maneuver litigator correctly decide where an event should take place?

When the Opposition Hosts

One school of thought teaches that an attorney should always have their opposition be the host because the host is obliged to provide water, supplies, and rooms. Also, the host need only go to the filing cabinet, or server, to obtain a document or something similar if it is needed. It’s quite difficult to claim that something is “back in the office” when the event is taking place in your office.

Benefits of the Home Field Advantage

Other lawyers instruct that everything should always be held on “home turf.” While there may be some logistical burden to being a host, one cannot underestimate the value of maintaining complete control over the facilities. For example, the home team can ensure that a deponent faces into the sun, or one can turn off the climate control in a particular room.[Yes, both of those have happened with some regularity.] “Home turf” does not necessarily lead to better results, but at least one might be more comfortable in their own environs.

Open Doors…

While there may be some incremental advantage to forcing your opponent to travel to you or conversely, traveling to your opponent, the real focus should be on fully preparing for the event. By doing so, the savvy attorney can exploit a different maxim of Master Sun regarding ground – “If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.”

At Yolofsky Law, the focus is on helping clients obtain their goals. This is accomplished by establishing goals, developing a strategy, choosing the tactics to execute the strategy, and constantly revising and collaborating with the client to achieve success. To learn more about our client-focused approach to business strategy and contract negotiations, contact us online or call 305.702.8250.