Saturday, January 6, 2007

Location Location Location

Of course its true in real estate, and its true for the venue of our cases and clients. When you make that big decision to take a matter or not, you must consider the venue, not just of the case itself, but of the clients and other players.

Where I am in Queens County, New York, there are 8 counties in reasonable proximity to my office (5 boros of NYC, and Nassau, Suffolk & Westchester Counties). When a new matter is being discussed, I've learned to consider WHERE will the action take place. If there is litigation involved, we all think of this from the a plaintiff where will I venue the case, as a potential defendant, where will plaintiff venue it, and why.

I think of non-litigation matters as having a "venue" too. Will there be meetings with clients and counsel? WHERE will they be? Here's a reality, if I have to attend meetings in Brooklyn or Manhattan during the day, add two hours. If its not the kind of case or client where you KNOW you are truly compensated for your time (and be HONEST with yourself), factor this in when deciding whether to get involved. This is primarily why I have stopped taking real estate closings on a flat fee basis (aside from all the other reasons, more on this tomorrow.....)

Is it the kind of client who will need to be in your office more than once during the matter? If they have to commute an hour each time, how long will it be till they resent that?

On litigated matters, will your adversary have "home court advantage"? Don't overlook this, and its not just because they know the Judges and Clerks and customs of the home court. A simple status conference with the court, where your adversary is there anyway because ALL his cases are there, is a big waste for you. You may be better off paying a "per diem" lawyer to go, but do you prefer that?

How much more confident do you feel when you are in YOUR home court. I know that the case is still the case, and I think they invariably turn out the way they should, BUT we are talking now about BUSINESS, and profits, and convenience, and lifestyle. I will often decide to refer a case to "local counsel", even if its in Manhattan or Brooklyn or Nassau counties (all contiguous to Queens and all close by), for business reasons. I also have cases referred TO me because of my Queens presence.

Bottom line, venue, venue venue.

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