Sunday, December 16, 2007

Getting the Other Side’s Attention

Generally, scheduling a hearing or deposition takes little more than a call by one’s legal assistant to opposing counsel’s legal assistant. There are times, however, that those calls go unreturned. Despite your assistant’s best efforts, no dates are provided and hearings and depositions remain to be set. How do you handle this situation? Consider the following:

Reach out and touch someone. At the commencement of any case, consider picking up the phone and introducing yourself to opposing counsel. Have a pleasant chat and lay the foundation for cooperation during the course of the upcoming litigation. Such calls help ensure that your office’s requests for dates do not go unanswered.

Call for dates. When setting a hearing or deposition, never do it unilaterally. Have your legal assistant call opposing counsel’s and ask for mutually convenient dates. If she does not receive a response to the first call, have your secretary call again.

Follow up with an e-mail. If your legal assistant does not receive a response, send opposing counsel an e-mail letting him know that your office called and is waiting on dates. Propose several dates for him to choose from. Make it easy for him to cooperate with you.

Follow up with the notice. Your office calls. No response. You send an e-mail. No response. What next? Consider sending a letter, enclosing a notice for the hearing or deposition on a date and time that is convenient for you. In the letter, note your secretary called twice and you sent an e-mail, but despite your best efforts, you either have not been given dates or have been given inconvenient ones. Also note that the date on the notice you sent is not written in stone. If it is inconvenient, you will reschedule it if opposing counsel provides a reasonable alternative date. This way, you apply pressure to opposing counsel to cooperate. He either provides another date or accepts yours.

Setting hearings and depositions should be uneventful. However, under those rare circumstances when opposing counsel does not cooperate, following the steps above can help you ensure that you set the hearings and depositions you need to advance your client’s interests.

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