April 19, 2019 — Legal specialists recently discussed what it takes to gain a favorable result in cases that go to trial or mediation during adjunct Professor J. Michael Solar's class, "The Modern Day Trial Lawyer: Redefining Trials & Trial Lawyers" at the University of Houston Law Center.
Solar's colloquium style class analyzes whether the characteristics of classical trial lawyers are relevant in a time when jury trials continue to decline.
Richard Mithoff has practiced law for more than 45 years, and has represented numerous high-profile clients. He specializes in general civil litigation, personal injury, commercial litigation, medical malpractice, products liability, aviation and admiralty cases.
"I try to engage the jury panel early from jury selection and establish a rapport," Mithoff said. "You want to prove the case, but don't overprove it. Sometimes the best part of a story is not what's included, but what is kept out."
Jim Lawrence is the executive director of the Blakely Advocacy Institute and interim director of the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center. He is a qualified mediator in Texas and also directs the Law Center’s highly successful Moot Court Interscholastic Competition Program and Alternative Dispute Resolution Interscholastic Competition Program.
He said in order to thrive as a mediator, attorneys must take a solution-based approach.
"The key to winning in mediation is it has to be about solving the problem," Lawrence said. "If you have to be right, chances are slim that you're going to settle. If you want to be right, mediation is a hard place to do that.
"The key to success in mediation is preparation. A proper preparation for mediation is preparing like you're going to trial."
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