By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
We are on your “nice” list, right? We suggest that you consider these gift-like actions of counsel in these recent, distinct cases:
- The parties submitted a joint motion along with a draft order for the Court’s signature. They took it one step further, including a Word version of the draft order. That allowed the judge to tinker with it slightly but essentially grant their requested relief without having to write up the whole order.
- An attorney who doesn’t frequently file expedited hearing requests filed the request along with the entire set of unorganized medical records (which the mediator already filed with the Dispute Certification Notice). The records totaled about 100 pages. The Court ordered that the employee’s lawyer cull the records and organize them in accordance with Rule 0800-02-21-.16(6)(c) (p. 13) and gave defense counsel additional time to file any records the employee might have omitted that he saw as crucial to his position. The employee’s attorney cut the records down to just seven pages (so he didn’t have to organize them and create a table of contents); the defense counsel filed no additional records.
- In preparation for a recent compensation hearing, the parties’ attorneys made a concerted effort to avoid duplicate medical records. Before taking expert proof, they jointly prepared the medical records and only introduced the records once as an exhibit to the authorized treatment provider’s deposition. In later depositions, the attorneys simply referred back to the ATP’s exhibit and didn’t re-introduce the records.
- In a case where the issue was medical causation only and defense counsel lives three hours away, the parties and counsel agreed to argue the case only by telephone rather than appearing live to present testimony and argument. This cut the hearing time substantially and saved one lawyer from a long journey. Also, the employee may still get her “day in court” at the final compensation hearing.
- Similarly, an employee suffered injury while working for a Nashville employer but moved to Mississippi, just south of Memphis, before the expedited hearing. Travel was difficult for the employee, so the defense attorney agreed to setting the case in Jackson to make travel less onerous for the employee.
The theme here is these lawyers took steps that saved the parties and the Court a great deal of time, enabling the judge to streamline his or her decision-making. The steps also showed reasonable consideration to others’ needs, while conveying to the Court that these lawyers knew their cases well. They bolstered their professional reputations. They further demonstrated that lawyers can be effective advocates while still cooperating with opposing counsel when appropriate.
So, thank you to these lawyers. I encourage all counsel to follow their example. It might lead to a faster outcome for your client, and your work day might be more pleasant as well.