From John DeGroote’s Settlement Perspectives
“In 60 days . . . you will know 80 percent of what you will ever know about a case.” PD Villareal’s quote was critical to our efforts to define Early Case Assessment in 2008 as we started our series on ECA, and we’re always happy to hear more from him. Fortunately, an interview with Villareal in this month’s Metropolitan Corproate Counsel gives us just that.
In CPR’s ECA Toolkit – A Great Contribution to Controlling Litigation Costs, Villareal discusses CPR’s new ECA guidlines and Early Case Assessments on a broader level. Villareal jumps right in to tell us how ECA differs from the status quo:
The thing about lawyers is that by mindset and by training, they will want to collect facts and analyze them forever because every additional piece of information adds to their understanding of the situation and to their assessment of the case.
Early case assessment imposes the discipline of cutting that process short. Experience teaches us that if you conduct a very good early case assessment . . . you will know 80 percent of all you will ever know about this case. Is that perfect knowledge? Well by definition “no,” but it is adequate and sufficient knowledge upon which to make decisions about the direction in which you want to go to resolve most controversies.
In the interview, Villareal also responds to those who think ECA is too expensive (”ECA . . . represents expenditures that would have to be made later in any event”), and he walks through the elements of his Early Case Assessments at a high level (an “assessment of the facts,” “what’s at stake for the company,” and more), and he discusses CPR’s ECA Toolkit — all of which make the entire interview worth a read. (And many thanks to Rees Morrison for highlighting Villareal’s interview at the Law Department Management Blog.)