See You in the Hallway


By Attorney Howard Iken: The hallway is the most productive spot in the entire courthouse. This applies to all areas, all jurisdictions, and all types of courts. Yes, the hallway. When I need to get things done in the courthouse the hallway seems to be the place of choice.  I could have pumped 1000 hours of prep for a trial or 2 hours of prep for a hearing. But the hallway still wins out as the place to be.

So what is the power and cache connected with this place called “Hallway?”

The hallway is the place where we get things done and the difficult deals made. Some judges seem to quietly recognize the power of the hallway. I have had some judges suggest everyone step out into the hallway to discuss a settlement. I always have a silent appreciation for those judges.  The hallway owes its power to the fact that pressure, time, and fear intersect at the same point sometime before everyone walks into the courtroom.  There is pressure to get what you want. There is a fear the other side will get what they want. And the time until a judge independently looks at the facts and makes a final decision is minutes away. Mix those three facts together and the attorneys and clients are literally swimming in the middle of the Bermuda triangle. It is a heady time to think on your feet and propose deals.

A good attorney pulls out all the stops for one of those hallway-sessions. You must paint a picture of victory for your client and utter defeat for the other side. One must also pull out some wild cards – if available. I did that during last week by realizing we had an opening to seek an additional $10,000 after the hearing. It was only a possibility but as I pulled out the wild card the other side threw in the towel for that day’s hearing. Being the alert negotiator I pushed on. I wanted more, my client wanted more, and we ended up getting more. The hallway came through once again.

Next time you are in the courthouse make sure you look around while you are in route to the courtroom. Because you are traveling through and probably not taking attention of the best place for business – The Hallway.

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