OCM: Besides a burning desire to win, what sets you apart from other trial attorneys? DC: When
I have a trial approaching, I go into what I call “lockdown.” Thirty or
60 days from opening arguments, I bring all of the documents,
depositions and other pieces of the case into my office. I go from
supervising the case to personally reading every page of every document.
I get as close as possible to the case. I dictate ideas and summarize
key parts of the case. The key to winning is in the preparation. I
simply don’t want to lose. When I go into a case, there is a certain
fear because there is a mountain of documents, and I always assume that
my opposing counsel is quite good. To combat that fear, I put that
individual in my mind on a pedestal and view him or her as a
10-foot-tall giant. By the time I walk into trial, I’m an 800-pound
gorilla because I have studied so long, and he’s not really 10 feet tall
at all. I suddenly have the mental edge I need.
OCM: Sounds like this is your go-to strategy heading into a big trial. DC: If
you are really going to be ready, you have to have read all of the
documents yourself. You have to digest the material. You have to be one
with it. It’s the only way you can be ready when witnesses start
changing their stories.
Success can dull the drive and make even the best professionals soft as
they slow to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Have you gotten soft? DC:
No. It’s in my DNA to push and stay sharp. I enjoy what I do. Besides,
this firm is much more than me. I have an obligation to build this firm
for the benefit of everyone here. I have a responsibility, and we’re not
done yet having success.
In baseball they talk about the “five-tool players,” stars who bring
exceptional skills such as speed, power and fielding. Assess your
attributes. What are you best at? DC: Simple:
I get results. I’m the Angels’ Mike Trout of Orange County litigation.
What distinguishes us from other firms is a commitment to the client.
We’ve built this practice by getting results, and that has lead to
referrals. But we’ve also done it by getting out of the office. At one
time, I wrote a column for the Orange County Business Journal. I’ve
spoken many times to industry groups, and we market ourselves. When
people need a lawyer, I want them, in half a second, to think of our
firm first. The only way that will happen is by getting more exposure.
OCM: You do traditional advertising, unlike many of your peers in the legal community. You are a contrarian on this topic. DC:
That’s right. But I couldn’t build the firm just relying on the phone
ringing randomly. As a business owner, you want to do the best job you
can. I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t share our successes and tell
our story. I have an obligation to keep the business moving. As a
result, I’m fortunate that I have something to talk about. We’ve had