My First Month in Sinels

Having worked for two years in property law at a commercial firm moving to Dispute Resolution specialists Sinels provided some key insights into the world of litigation.

The Difference - Intelligence

As a studying lawyer, it is often lightly brushed over in your Dispute Resolution class that it is always important to sue somebody who can actually give you what you want. If it is a breach of contract claim that will usually mean ensuring they have one thing – funds. My ultimate tutor (thank you Mr. Scott) did indeed make sure this was known.

What you are not taught is that this principle is more often than not the most important thing.

Previously I worked in transactional matters – this meant two (or more) parties negotiating to agree to something, such as to buy or sell land, or to agree a loan. Usually the parties would have a common ground to progress the issue, and would have some level of frank disclosure.

In litigation it is not always the case. Mr Scott was correct in saying they must be a feasible defendant, however we were never taught how to find that out.

This is where intelligence comes in. To most of the world (myself included) the concept of ‘gathering intelligence’ implied some level of covert or clandestine operations, perhaps involving a secret meeting at dusk, or two people in a car observing a property all night with a radio and some hastily made sandwiches.

This is not necessarily the case. Whilst I cannot state these sort of components do not surround ‘intelligence’, a much more useful term would be information. Questions of solvency, location and capacity are often far more useful than a book with a hidden camera.

Whilst trying to avoid such tropes of “know thy enemy” and “knowledge is power” it is undeniable that understanding what you are against is invaluable.

The Similarities – Objectives

Ultimately every lawyer must ask themselves one question – “what is the objective here”.

Some clients wish to resolve business amicably and ‘bury the hatchet’ – hence why practitioners often prefer use of “dispute resolution” instead of “litigation” – some however feel deeply aggrieved and will not rest until their hatchet is thoroughly buried elsewhere.

We must in practice align ourselves with our clients’ objectives, advise them thoroughly and professionally, and then use our best endeavours to achieve what we can on their behalf.

To draw the comparison again, in transactional matters your client may wish to purchase a large field for as cheap as possible, set up a long term business partnership, or begin the first of many hire-purchase agreements with a reputable supplier. Whilst you may be instructed on the single transaction, the intended outcome should always be considered. The importance is the ability to see the big picture.

The Importance of Informative Intelligence

“Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit,

Wisdom is knowing it does not belong in a fruit salad.”

The crux of the matter is simple – one does not drive at night with one’s eyes closed. You should continue to ensure as much information as possible can be obtained. In the unfortunate circumstance where a relationship has broken down or failed, that may be harder to come by.

At this point your skills as a lawyer can go so far. With a round of apologies for the third comparison, being an excellent lawyer is pointless if your client wishes to purchase useless land. You must have some realm of business wisdom to tell your client the story of building a house on sand.

To that extent the very best transactional lawyers are indeed some of the best business-people. They know what makes your business go round, and can be valuable advisers from a general perspective.

Similarly a good dispute resolution lawyer will need to have access to appropriate suppliers of intelligence. Sinels’ allegiance with Sintel is a central component to the business, enabling us to assist our clients in directing their disputes in the right direction.

Sometimes the importance of intelligence is the wisdom to possess it.