Justice delayed is justice denied. A common moan of anyone who has ever been involved in a legal dispute (outside of small claims court) that actually made it to trial. In Indiana it is becoming a fact of litigation that an issue presented to the lawyer today has little chance of being resolved through trial for nearly a year from today.
The question is why? First, going to trial is expensive. It is common to experience fees of $3,000 per day to each day of court time, and then incur at least $3,000 per day for every day of preparation for trial for which there is at least a one-to-one ratio. Consequently, a two-day bench trial could easily cost $12,000 in fees for the trial phase. Add to that the initiation phase and the discovery phase of the litigation and the costs grow quickly.
Second, in trial, the lawyer is no longer in control of the process. Therefore, he can no longer protect his client from an adverse outcome. The lawyer’s job is to get the best result for his client given the facts and circumstances. Sometimes, the best result occurs outside of the courtroom.
Third, despite how claims or issues are presented by the client to the attorney, inevitably, facts arise which tarnish the shine on a good case or defense, and lead the case into the dark of the uncertainty. This requires the case to be pursued until the lawyer achieves a level of comfort where he understands the relative risks versus the relative rewards of the case.
Fourth, sometimes cases that come to the lawyer are energized by the emotion of the moment. If the lawyer grasps this, he does his client a real service by letting time pass, deflating the emotion, and then revisiting the case when calmer heads are involved.
In his professional service to a client, a lawyer serves the client best when he is not tilting at windmills, charging blindly at an opponent, or cavalierly pursuing principle. Such service may pay the lawyer’s bills, but will do little to benefit the client or solve the client’s problems.
In the modern age, with the complexity of issues and the seeming instant gratification of communication through technology, perhaps a little “delay” will allow for a little less expense, yet achieve a little more justice.