“Fight to win every lawsuit against your company that lacks merit”

A long article in the ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Nov. 2008 at 30, thunders that a law department fares better in litigation if it “makes winning in an out of court the fundamental priority in dealing with all – repeat, all – cases that lack merit.” Joseph Speelman, joseph.speelman@lyondellbasell.com, the head of litigation at LyondellBasell – the world’s third-largest independent chemical enterprise, pounds home his conviction that “both self-interest and justice precluded settlements based solely on the ‘cost of litigation’ or because the matter is pending in a difficult or unfriendly forum.” In case you missed the point, “Any other approach only invites and encourages overwhelming, vexatious, baseless, exorbitant, and destructive litigation” (See my post of Oct. 22, 2005: little frivolous litigation occurs; June 6, 2006: judges find small numbers of cases frivolous; May 8, 2007: Ford Motor won’t settle.).

Maybe the three little words “that lack merit” allow sufficient flexibility for settlements to occur.

Speelman lists several firm partners who admire his macho “culture of confrontation” that will fight to the death “legal banditry.” Not surprising. His mantra is “We pay our own attorneys, not the opposing attorneys!” And pay he must, since what all litigators adore is a fight to the death, fees be damned, it’s the principle of the thing!

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