Summing Up Summary Judgment
Litigation Partner Daniel Small co-authored an article with the Honorable Judge Douglas H. Wilkins in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as part of a biweekly series. In this column, they conclude an ongoing discussion of summary judgment packages by analyzing two important but hard-to-follow principles: following the rules and being honest with oneself. First, as the authors explain, the rules reflect judges' input on what works and what does not in summary judgment practice, meaning they "codify [their] knowledge so that you can address the court persuasively." Following these rules, then, helps ensure that a case is effective. Second, being honest with oneself entails conducting a careful review of one's case: making sure uncontestable facts truly are uncontestable, addressing an opponent's best argument and constantly playing devil's advocate. Honest, thorough self-examination not only makes for a more effective case but also allows ensures that an attorney is able to advise a client realistically about the chances for success, which could save both parties time and money in the long term.