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5 Elements That Reports From Outside Counsel Should Have

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Outside looking in Part 2: Give what they need and you will make them happy!

Our last SPOT on Legal article looked at the five things counsel should leave out of a report. I’m sure most of you thought of more than five. This article looks at five things that must be included. It’s amazing how many times these basic items are overlooked. Providing the essential information in the correct format will help make claims professional’s jobs easier and will help to move the case in the appropriate direction.

  1. An Overview – Although you don’t want to repeat yourself, a little background is helpful.  Give an enough of an overview to give the new information some context.  This is especially important if the reports are every 60 days or more.
  2. Enough Detail – I know one of the warnings in the previous post was to not include too much detail.  Well that is a double-edged sword.  Bottom line: there shouldn’t be any unanswered questions after reading the report.  It always needs to address the effect on damages and liability whether or not there has been a change on those estimates.  Again, the lesson here
  3. Direct Advice/Recommendations – The report needs to have a point.  What needs to be done in light of this new information?  If nothing, then state it.  If additional questions have come up that need to be addressed with more discovery or depositions, then state it.  If now is the time the try to resolve the case in light of the new information, then recommend it.
  4. Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan – Every report should state what the expected activity is before the next report is sent. Have a plan moving forward and work that plan.  Any deviations from the expected activity in previous report should be explained.
  5. The Bottom Line is the Bottom Line – Always have a solid liability and damage estimate.  Liability estimates are most easily expressed in a percentage chance of a certain verdict.  A damage estimate is always harder to come up with but a range is usually appropriate (e.g. “any verdict in favor of the plaintiff will most likely be between $350,000 and $400,000).  It’s ok to change your estimate, but only if it is based on case developments that couldn’t be anticipated.  A looming trial date is never a good reason to change a liability or damage estimate.

Anything else you think they need to add?

Posted in SPOT on Legal.

4 Responses

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  1. Harmony says

    “A looming trial date is never a good reason to change a liability or damage estimate.” SO true, it is so important to stay firm and hold your ground. Great points Jim!

  2. Mary Anne says

    Great reminders of what a claims person would like to see in reports from Defense counsel. Especially the “Plan” part. Reports containing the information above would expedite the resolution of the claim. It is refreshing to see that Defense Counsel understands what would be helpful to the claims person! Good article Jim! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Dan Cummins says

    Great post!

    May I have your permission to republish the “Need” and “Don’t Need” posts as guest posts on my blog Tort Talk (

    May I have permission to republish these posts in written materials at a continuing legal education seminar I am working on?

    Dan Cummins

  4. Lorraine says

    Good article Jim! It’s refreshing to know that defense counsel is just as concerned about some of these issues.

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