“It’s cheaper to lose 20 percent of the cases than it is to settle them all.” (Ford Motor)

The issue of Corp. Counsel, May 2006, announced the winner of its best-law-department contest. One reason for its victory was Ford’s policy to try as many as 100 cases annually, and typically it has won three-quarters of them. A Ford lawyer explained that “the business decision to litigate means that settlements are usually 20-50 percent lower than they would be if they paid plaintiffs’ lowest demands.” Even as to the one-quarter of the cases Ford loses in the trial court, “many verdicts are slashed by trial judges and appellate courts, or settled for even less.” Then comes the quote in the header. Hardball about going to trial can save money.

Note also that as part of the Ford litigation effort the law department has a discovery team, “which handles most of the work in-house,” as well as an appeals group, which consists of two in-house lawyers and several outside firms (See my post of Nov. 25, 2005 about appeals handled on a fixed fee; and April 22, 2007 on appeals of wrongful-termination cases.). Ford, with 300 lawyers worldwide and slew of litigation, can maintain these specialty contributors.

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