Sunday, November 2, 2014

Venue, Venue, Venue

In real estate they say "location location location".  Of course, it's also true for the venue of our cases and clients. When you make the decision to take a matter or not, you must consider the venue.   Not just  the court where a litigated matter would be, but the "venue" of clients and other players.

Where I am in Queens County, New York, there are 8 counties in some proximity to my office:  The 5 boros of NYC, plus Nassau, Suffolk & Westchester Counties). Outside of Queens, all these present SOME level of inconvenience for me. Actually, I've had cases in Rockland and Putnam Counties too, which will now go into the "lesson learned" category.  

When a new matter is being discussed, I've learned to consider WHERE will the action take place. If there is possible litigation, we all think of this from the plaintiff I must think "where will I venue the case?", as a potential defendant, I consider "Where will plaintiff venue it, and why?"

You should consider that non-litigated matters have 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 (Staten Island or Suffolk County, add three hours).  If it's not the kind of case or client where you KNOW you will be truly compensated for your time (and be HONEST with yourself), factor this in when deciding whether to get involved.  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 until they resent that?  If you have to go to them, will they pay for your time?  If they don't, how will that be for YOU?

You MIGHT be better off referring such matters to someone local.  At the very least it merits consideration.  This is especially true with clients who can barely afford proper legal services to begin with.  The travel and inconvenience of this type of situation can turn brutal pretty quickly.  You are generally better off gaining the value of making a well considered referral.  

On litigated matters, will your adversary have "home court advantage"? Don't overlook this, and it's 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.

How much more confident do you feel when you are in YOUR home court (and your adversary is traveling)?  I know that the case is still the case, and I think they generally turn out the way they should, BUT we are talking about BUSINESS, and profits, and convenience, and lifestyle. I have referred cases to "local counsel", even if its in Manhattan or Brooklyn or Nassau counties (all contiguous to Queens), for business reasons.  I also have cases referred TO me because of my Queens presence.  There are sound business reasons for this.

Bottom line:  VENUE is a bottom line issue.

Comments are welcome....

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