“Well-done ECA (early case assessment) uncovers 80% of what you will ever know”

“Experience teaches us that if you conduct a very good early case assessment that looks at the facts and the law and the witnesses and the documents that you will know when you complete your ECA, 80 percent of all you will ever know about this case.” Coming from PD Villarreal, the head of litigation for Schering-Plough, that quote packs a wallop.

If it is true, after the initial investigation most general counsel would be excellently positioned to figure out what needs to be done in the case, what the case’s likely settlement value is, what kind of firm and other service providers are needed, and perhaps an alternative fee deal (See my post of Feb. 23, 2008: early case assessment with 8 references.).
http://lawdepartmentmanagement.typepad.com/law_department_management/2008/02/the-average-for.html. Although 80 percent is not omniscience, Villarreal maintains that “it is adequate and sufficient knowledge upon which to make decisions about the direction in which you want to go to resolve most controversies.” The interview of Villarreal is in Met. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 17, Nov. 2009 at 11.

I can imagine litigation partners at law firms not all that enthusiastic about short-circuiting what might be a long-running and lucrative matter, but for the ECA analysis they do at the start. A conflict of interest? Somewhat like settlement efforts by a pit-bull litigation partner?

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