“As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.”
                                                                        - Abraham Lincoln, Lecture Notes, circa 1850

“If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?”
                                                                        - Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach

Ed Barry

Clausewitz, the Prussian military philosopher, held that war is the ultimate extension of politics. So it is with litigation. Litigation is an extension of legal negotiations. It is a means to an end. Not an end unto itself. But often, litigation, like war, can take on a life of its own, with negative unintended consequences. The downside of litigation—the cost burden, the uncertainty, the disruption of the lives of clients, and the delay—can be very substantial. Although there of course can be no comparison to the cost of war in terms of loss of human life, a lawsuit, or the events giving rise to it, can represent a true crisis in the life of an individual, and can have ruinous consequences for a small business.

Therefore, a proactive, problem-solving approach often serves the client’s interests better than a knee-jerk reliance on formal litigation. Seeking a good settlement is wisdom, not weakness. “Victory without battle is best.” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 600 B.C.) Informal early settlement, mediation, and arbitration should often be explored as intelligent dispute resolution mechanisms.  Litigation is not always the only answer, or even the best answer.

But it has been well said that there is a difference between the principle of compromise and the compromise of principle. A lawyer should know that difference. A lawyer must also be willing and able to back up his or her words in a court of law, and to fight for what is right.

In the words of former NBA coach Pat Riley: “Sometimes you have to plant your feet, make a stand, and kick some ass.”

Law Offices of Edward L. Barry 2120 Company Street Third Floor
Christiansted St. Croix U. S. Virgin Islands 00820
Tel. 340.719.0601 Facsimile 340.719.0601

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