Legal Disputes

We pride ourselves on our ability to obtain favorable resolutions to disputes even under the most difficult of circumstances.

In doing so, we follow a simple collection of rules. We'd like to say that they are original to us... but they aren't. We've collected them from others over the years. Some of them predate us by centuries... some may be as old as two dinosaurs fighting over a piece of meat.

Here they are:

Rule Number 1

1. If you find yourself in a fair fight, you've probably done something wrong.

If you are in a fair fight, your first priority is to turn it unfair. Even after a fight is engaged, the ways of turning the fight unfair are limited only by your imagination.

For ideas on how to do this, see "Generating Tactical Advantage" below and for ideas on how to do this against a stronger opponent, see "Sun Tzu, Maneuver Warfare, Boyd Cycles and the Blitzkrieg".

Commitment and Focus

2. If it is worth a fight, it is worth winning. Don't skimp and don't lose.

If there was a valid reason to begin the fight, it is unlikely that there exists a cost effective way to lose it.

(see also "Picking Adversaries and Fights" below)

3. Once a fight starts, be ruthless, be relentless. Bring it to closure quickly. The longer it drags on, the more costly it becomes.

4. The likely outcome of any dispute or fight can be assessed by balancing the following factors:

The relative strength and force each adversary can bring to bear.

The relative positional advantage or disadvantage of each adversary.

Their relative strengths of will. The relative importance to each adversary of winning or losing; what each has to win, what each has to lose.

This simple equation has proven itself true and complete for hundreds of millions of years. It shows no sign of growing outdated soon.

Generating Tactical Advantage

5. Few conflicts are fought to the destruction of the losing participant. Even between mismatched adversaries, most fights resolve into contests of wills. Usually, the participants will fight until one of them finds the pain and cost of battle to be greater than the value it places on what is being fought over. That adversary will then disengage or concede to the other.

Do whatever you can to demoralize your opponents. Create in them a strong desire to be involved in some other activity.

Also, find ways of diminishing the value to your opponent of what you are fighting over.

6. Create opportunities to do the unexpected and the unconventional. Follow the line of least expectation. There is nothing more demoralizing or intimidating than facing an unpredictable opponent.

The impact of this on your adversary is multiplied when you couple it with speed and agility in reacting to countermeasures.

7. Avoid backing anyone into a corner. No one is more dangerous than someone who cannot retreat. Cornered, even a meek person can turn into a tiger. Leave them an escape route.

8. Never rely on an opponent to make a mistake. Once they make a mistake; move quickly. Exploit it and don't let up.


9. The bigger the stakes for your opponents, the easier they are to bluff.

10. Don't bluff anyone until they have first seen you win a few. The ideal is to let them see you win three row.

A single win by itself doesn't have much impact. Two wins is evidence of a pattern. Three wins is a clear pattern.

After observing three consecutive wins, few people will bet against a fourth.

11. Its easier to bluff someone coming off a string of losses than someone who is on a winning streak. A string of three consecutive losses is best.

12. Avoid bluffing the same person twice.

13. Bluff sparingly. Few things hurt your credibility more than bluffing, getting called on it, and then backing down. It will limit your freedom of maneuver in the future, even when you aren't bluffing.

Picking Adversaries and Fights

14. Select your adversaries with care. Never underestimate the ability of an adversary to cause you grief in the future. People will revenge themselves for small offenses as much as for large ones.

15. Choose your fights carefully; even with existing adversaries.

16. Don't get into a fight unless it is worth it. Don't get into a fight unless you can win it.

There is no fight that you cannot lose, no matter how disadvantaged your opponent.

If you can get a similar result without a fight, do it. You cannot benefit from a needless fight. Fights are costly propositions even when won.

17. Taking Sides.

In taking sides, if you can make little difference, stay neutral. Don't help a powerful person cause harm to a weaker party. Your help is not needed and therefore earns you no gratitude; and you pick up an unnecessary enemy.

Before helping someone cause harm to another party, first make sure you have little to fear from the harmed party, regardless of the outcome.

Sometimes you must or should take sides. Deciding whether to take sides or sit on the fence can be difficult. Don't ignore your own sense of right and wrong; but avoid making foolish alliances not in your best interest.

18. If it becomes clear you will lose a battle, retreat. There is no valor in absorbing needless injury.

If you retreat too quickly or carelessly, your retreat can turn into a rout. You will suffer more damage in a rout than you will by accepting battle in retreat.

When you retreat, retreat like a wounded lion; give your opponent reason to advance with caution.

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Curt Sahakian
Attorney at Law
Chicago, Illinois