At the end of every case—whether it’s settled or by way of judgment after a trial—I ask the opposing attorney to sit down with me to do a full review of the case. All issues in the case are open for discussion, except for attorney-client communications or any other privileged matters.
The purpose of the meeting is to become a better attorney by learning from the strategic missteps I made during the course of the litigation. When I say “missteps”, I don’t mean legal malpractice, I mean what strategic decisions I made that had little or no value, versus the strategic decisions I made that have better or greater value in the eyes of the opposing attorneys. Of course I encourage the opposing attorney to ask me the same questions about his/her strategic decisions—which ones I felt were good or not so good.
Less than a third of opposing attorneys agree to do this exercise with me. I’m not sure why it’s not 100 percent after some of the meetings I’ve done in the past. I’ve learned so much about what is effective in prosecuting my case and what isn’t. Additionally, I hear opposing counsel tell me his/her thoughts of the case as the litigation was unfolding. What stressors they had. What stressor they didn’t have. His/her view on settlement versus going to trial. And on and on…
I agree to keep the postmortem meeting with the opposing attorney confidential. And I trust they will return the same courtesy.
I challenge all California attorneys to offer to do a postmortem analysis of their cases with opposing counsel. We would all be better for it—learning and becoming better attorneys based on the analysis of our work from the impressions formed by the opposing attorney during the lawsuit and vice versa. And, doing this type of meeting would help foster better relationships between plaintiff and defense attorneys who may meet again in future cases.