"Everything you've been told about building
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The Anatomy of a Winner

There is one play that epitomizes Derek Jeter’s greatness as a baseball player.  Let’s go back to July, 2004 in a mid-summer game against the Yankees’ bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox.  With runners on second and third base with two outs and the score tied 3-3 in the 12th inning, Red Sox batter, Trot Nixon, hit a mini-popup down the left field line that seemed destined to fall in shallow left field.

From the moment the ball left the bat of Trot Nixon, Derek Jeter kept his eye on the ball and never looked down at the left field wall as he sprinted to make the catch.As he ran to make the catch near the left field wall, Jeter had to know that his body was going to slam into the four-foot wall and he would be launched head-first into the steel seats and concrete floor in the stands. Jeter caught the ball at full sprint just before crashing into the left field wall with his lower body and he was catapulted face-first into the concrete and steel stands three rows from the field of play. Jeter was helped out of the stands by the fans with fresh blood and nasty cuts across his chin and forehead…and the ball firmly in his glove.

Yankee announcer, Michael Kay, couldn’t have said it better, “Ladies and gentlemen, you are watching an incredible baseball player.”Every shortstop in major league baseball had just as much physical ability to make the catch as Jeter, but if given the same opportunity, no other player would have made the play.  It wasn’t Jeter’s physical ability that made his signature catch possible–his single-minded focus and go-for-broke mentality is what match the catch possible and that’s exactly why he has 5 championship rings and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

What Injury Lawyers Can Learn from Derek Jeter

As a young lawyer, I saw the same determination and focus from a legendary trial lawyer, John Powers, Esq., in a Labor Law case involving the amputation of a 45 year old worker’s legs in a road repaving project.The construction accident case involved strong liability, huge damages and more than enough insurance. The goal was to get the lawsuit to trial as quickly as possible, but the defense wasn’t quite playing along.

Rather than accept the usual 12-18 month deadlines for the completion of discovery and depositions for most lawsuits, John became obsessed about pushing the case through discovery at a maniacal rate. From the moment the lawsuit was filed, John served subpoenas upon non-party witnesses for documents and depositions, and had the discovery responses and demands ready long before they had to be served upon defense counsel.  John set firm deadlines for discovery and wasted no time in getting his staff to work to meet every deadline.  John accepted no delays or adjournments of the court-ordered deadlines and when the defense counsel tried to adjourn the trial date, he refused.

The results were nothing short of amazing.  While most cases can take 2-3 years to get to trial, John got the construction case to trial—from the filing of the lawsuit until the trial—in 9 months.  The client was the ultimate beneficiary with a settlement at trial that secured his medical and income needs for the rest of his life.

The Power of a 12 Week Plan

It’s not realistic to have John Powers, Esq.’s obsessive approach to discovery in all of your cases, right?  Fair enough, but what if you cherry-picked your five biggest cases and created a 12-week plan to get them to trial.

Start by calling a meeting with your paralegal and secretary to discuss a 12 Week Plan for your biggest case.  Start small by focusing only on one case at first.  Take out a calendar and go week-by-week as to what needs to be done and exactly what every person on your team, including you, is responsible for (if you want an example of a 12 Week Plan, email my paralegal, Corina Skidmore, at cskidmore@fishermalpracticelaw.com and she’ll email it to you).  In just 12 weeks, you can complete discovery and ask the court for a trial date.

Once you have the 12 Week Plan, schedule a meeting every Monday to review your progress and hold your team (including you) accountable.  The 12 Week Plan is meaningless unless you review it every week and make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.  The 12 Week Plan keeps your team aligned around a single goal: getting your biggest case to trial as quickly as possible.  It’s great to have a plan and dictate the progress of your lawsuit through discovery, rather than taking the haphazard approach of most lawyers who have no plan.


photo credit: rally via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.