Legal Law

Discuss what your viewers cares about, not what pursuits you

On one matter that I worked on with my colleagues, there was a huge, generally very interesting internal debate about a question of jurisdiction. Most of the debate has been legal – whether we can file in a particular jurisdiction, and how and what the consequences are – and all of that – and some of it tactical – "it is in our customers' best interest to be here, not there" and all that. Finally we submitted. The question of jurisdiction was not raised at all, we rejected a motion to dismiss and we won the case.

While we probably spent more time in our preliminary work on this subject of jurisdiction than on any other legal issue, it was wise for us not to bring it up later. In short, the reason is simple: nobody cares. A little longer: the judge and her staff didn't care, and if we got to a jury, they certainly wouldn't care.

As a trial attorney, this can be a difficult realization: you spend so much time or days on topics that you find interesting. But your client doesn't care (she just wants advice and wins, and she has the right to focus on it). The judge or arbitrator generally doesn't care (they generally want to do justice and they have the right to focus on it). And the jury doesn't care (the whole point of our jury system is that jurors are citizens who get involved in our political process by finding facts and hearing stories, while I definitely believe they are trying to do justice and they are right to focus on it and not care much about the diversity statute which they have never heard of and which would be confused anyway by the more frequent use of the term “diversity” these days).

As mentioned earlier, this is all as it should be. What we have to do as lawyers is keep an eye on the ball. Let's have fun with work. Let's enjoy the legal or other challenges. To be very clear, addressing these challenges can help our customers win without them even thinking about it. I'm sure Indy auto teams use certain fuel or auto components to help their drivers win, even if the drivers sometimes have no idea what is under the hood or flowing through the pipes. In our cases we need to know what is best to keep under the hood or what fuel to use.

But we have to be professional and remember that we don't care about any of these others we report to in one way or another, and that's fine. In order to win for our customers, we concentrate on what interests them, judges, juries and referees.

JohnBalestriere is an entrepreneurial litigation attorney who started his law firm after working as a prosecutor and litigator in a small law firm. He is a partner at the law firm BalestriereFariello in New York, where he and his colleagues represent national and international clients in litigation, arbitration, appeals and investigations. You can reach him by email at

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