Just over 10 years ago, I suffered the first defeat following trial of my legal career. It was a tough loss. Even worse - I still believe it was entirely avoidable, and a winnable case.
Why We Lost
Let me preface what follows with this: I'm certainly not immune to mistakes; I make them Every. Single. Day.
But in this particular instance, the less than stellar outcome of this trial was not the result of anything I did or didn't do; rather, my client decided to get "cute" when testifying on cross-examination.
In this particular case, I represented a former employer who alleged that the defendant, a former salesman of theirs, unfairly competed against my client by using his inside information regarding jobs that they had bid upon to contact those potential buyers and underbid my client, ultimately securing that business instead of my client.
I was very pleased with how my client testified on direct examination, as our evidence went in cleanly, and he testified as to the 20 or so jobs that almost certainly would have gone to my client but for the defendant's wrongful actions that breached his fiduciary duties to the company, and was in violation of his noncompete agreement.
But then came cross-examination.
And that's when my client decided to get "cute."
When asked about those other jobs, he testified there was a "fair chance" my client would have secured those jobs but if not for the defendant's actions.
Naturally, that delighted the defense attorneys. And it certainly got the judge's attention, and ultimately proved to be the proverbial hook upon which he hung his hat in later dismissing my client's case.
And this result - I still believe to this day - was entirely avoidable had my client simply played it straight.