Who I Am
I’m Gene DuBose, and I am a trial lawyer. I try business and consumer lawsuits. My resume will give you an idea of the variety of matters I’ve handled. My article, One Trial, One Lawyer, is posted on this website under the heading How I Practice Law. It will tell you quite a bit about the way I handle my cases. The following paragraphs set out some important aspects of my manner of practicing law that the article doesn’t deal with.
Lawsuits are nasty and expensive.
You don’t get involved in one unless you absolutely have to and unless you know with some Certainty that it’s going to be worth the money you'll spend on it. Trying lawsuits is very labor-intensive; it’s not cheap. Clients tell me that they don’t care about whether the other side can pay a judgment or how much it costs, it’s a matter of principle. I tell them that their principles will evaporate the moment they receive my first invoice. As you might imagine, the advice I most commonly give to those who come to my office seeking my services is: Don’t bring the lawsuit.
There are substantial reasons why I give this advice. Even if you get a judgment, that judgment isn’t worth as much as you think it is. If a lot is at stake in the lawsuit, you can expect an appeal after the trial is over, and the court of appeals can send you back to the trial court to do it all over again. And if someone doesn’t like the appellate court’s decision, he can appeal that decision up another level, sometimes up another two levels. And all this is just as true when you’re a defendant and the trial court has found that you have done nothing wrong.
It doesn’t necessarily get a lot better when, after all the expense, the appeals and the shenanigans of opposing counsel, you finally end up with a dollars-and-cents judgment in your favor. That judgment doesn’t pay itself. You have to go out and find assets belonging to the party you defeated at trial so you can seize them and sell them. This is not always an easy matter, and bringing those assets to heel may well involve . . . yes, another lawsuit. Largely because of these seemingly endless costs, only about two percent of the cases filed in Dallas County, Texas, the county where I have my office, actually go to trial.
All these factors combine to argue persuasively that in any lawsuit you are involved in, whether as plaintiff or as defendant, you need to develop at the very outset an exit strategy that maximizes the bang you get for the buck you pay your lawyer. Sometimes that means immediate negotiation for a settlement before anyone goes to court or an early mediation once a case is filed. Other cases will dictate aggressive lawyering so that your opponent will see both the merit in your case and the virtue in a settlement more generous to you than what he anticipated at the start. A weak case, on the other hand, will call for a quick settlement on the best terms you can get, without wasting money on a lawyer whose skills cannot significantly better the outcome.
I believe you will find my greatest value to you is my ability and willingness to explain, in clear, understandable terms, how our sometimes puzzling American legal system works. I honed my ability to make the mysteries of the law intelligible by teaching beginning law students during my four years as a law school professor some years ago. In deciding how your lawsuit should be conducted, there are no questions you should be too embarrassed to ask; I encourage them all . . . including questions about my bills. You can't make your decisions intelligently without knowing how the process works and what the consequences of your decisions are likely to be.Sometimes you will have no choice but to go to trial.
And you shouldn’t get the impression from reading this that I am squeamish about actually trying cases. Far from it. I love trying cases. I love taking a liar apart on the witness stand, playing with him like a cat playing with a mouse. I like being better prepared and sharper than the big firm lawyers I am often up against. I like winning. But I don’t think my clients should pay me just to enjoy myself.Times are tough.
And in these tough times I have seen some lawyers spending long hours to get ready for a trial that will never take place in cases that should long ago have been settled. Why? Because they don’t want their fees to stop coming in. I understand that, but I don’t do it. I don’t cut corners on the work I do because half-hearted lawyering is generally ineffective – but I don’t take any action unless I think it’s worth the cost. I will send you copies of everything I send out or file so you will see what you’re paying for, and my bills are detailed so that you know how much each task has cost. In any significant matter, I will confer with you regularly to discuss strategy and costs. And I will tell you when I think it’s time to cut bait.
Be careful who you hire as your lawyer. It’s your money; don’t waste it.