How to Choose the Best Business Litigation Attorney? Part 2

April 17, 2024

What are clients looking for in an Ohio Business Litigation Attorney?

In our last post, we began addressing a viral post on X by the Chief Technology Officer of a New York-based real estate finance company entitled “HOW TO HIRE GOOD ATTORNEYS” in which he vented his frustrations about hiring the wrong attorney for a case. Here is the X post thread in its entirety:

kyle o’hehir
3:00 PM · Apr 2, 2024

“Your partner hired me, he has to fire me, not you!.”

i handed my phone to my partner over the pizza we were having for lunch

“Joe, fire this piece of shit for me”

first casualty of many

here’s my process for finding lawyers who don’t suck 👇🧵


stay away from big name do-everything firms

big jack of all trades law firms charge high hourly rates for being masters of nothing

find someone specialized and local who’s familiar with the clerks and judges and the hyperlocal quirks

Google maps is your friend here, but if you need a litigator, perusing court cases and seeing who reps the parties is even better


attorneys are conservative by nature, they don’t get into legal battles personally so they don’t have a clue who’s a good litigator


Find more than 3, but less than a dozen attorneys who practice the kind of law you need

Schedule introductory calls with them

Try to cram the calls into a 48-72 hour window

stacking like this will allow you do to a very direct real time comparison

This is especially important if you are new to the geography and/or the subject matter

If you’re green, you are going to think the first person you talked to is a genius; because relative to you they are (or they should be)

the beauty of back-to-back calls means you will be able to quickly spot the actual standouts

society holds attorneys in a bizarrely high regard

but really, most attorneys are just someone who couldn’t get a good job out of undergrad; remember that as you screen them


FIRST QUESTION: What percent of your work is the area of law I need?

If it’s less than 50%, move on

SECOND QUESTION: What is the most aggressive move you made to advance your client’s interest?

Most counsel is content to let senile judges and lazy clerks knock their clients around while they stack billable hours

You want counsel you will represent you ruthlessly

THIRD QUESTION: Are you a dickhead?

The response you want is laughter and a gruff “depends who you ask”

I have settled suits simply because the other side loathed my counsel

this isn’t a friendly disagreement, this is a fucking street fight; hire counsel who knows it

Outside of these questions, you should treat hiring counsel like you would treat hiring employees

9/10 counsel that comes off as aloof are incompetent

no f-bombs == no retainer

again, this isn’t fucking high tea or a polo match

something i have left off here is references

I don’t believe in checking references

the average person can barely read and write

I don’t really care what they think about the quality of someone’s lawyering

in a future thread I’ll address managing attorneys, but how you supervise counsel can make a huge difference in outcomes

this makes references for attorneys even more useless

John Q. Public also has really stupid expectations for attorneys because Mr. Public watches too much TV

If you really want to diligence a litigator thoroughly post-interview:

plug their name into a local civil case lookup and see what fights they’ve been in

If they have no activity: move on

if you see a bunch of ticky tacky bullshit small claims and evictions: move on

Everyone has a different style when it comes to business and litigation

but i believe strongly that you should always seek the most aggressive counsel you can find

Partially this is to correct for the legal profession’s natural timidity

That’s a wrap!

Unmerited Pushback Against Kyle O’Hehir’s Guide to Hiring Good Attorneys

Attorneys across the internet are criticizing O’Hehir’s guide to choosing the best business litigation attorney. Sure, there may be room for attorneys to smooth out some of the rougher edges, but O’Hehir makes some excellent points and provides an important perspective for litigators.

Most fundamentally, I believe O’Hehir’s core message is that, in business litigation matters, clients want attorneys who care about winning. In fact, clients want business litigation attorneys who are obsessed with winning. In a world where the trend is for law firm owners to “streamline” their practices to make the most money possible while putting in the least amount of time and effort—usually by running a “volume” or “mill” practice where they take only simple/straightforward cases and personally do little to no legal work, often resulting in mediocre representation (more blog posts about this to come!)—clients demand attorneys with grit who have a relentless drive to win.

I strongly believe this quality is essential for business litigation attorneys—if you are looking for a 9 to 5 job, you will not be successful in litigation. The best attorneys take their work home with them. And that is an understatement—they wake up at night worrying about their cases, sacrifice their personal lives, and will stop at nothing to win their clients’ cases (within the ethical bounds, of course—not with Saul Goodman tactics).

This is one of the most essential qualities I look for in Summer Associates and Attorneys we hire at Durst Kerridge—the drive to win. If there is an important deposition on Monday, for example, clients want a lawyer who is in the office on Sunday painstakingly reviewing the exhibits and deposition outline and spending hours tweaking their preparation in any way possible that might give the client the slightest advantage—even if not all of that time can be billed to the client. Clients want attorneys who care about winning their cases.

Side Note: Improving quality of life for attorneys and avoiding burnout are crucial for the legal profession, and there are positive trends in this regard. At Durst Kerridge, we seek to find the right balance without sacrificing our dedication to the client.

In the next blog post, we will break down O’Hehir’s Tweet in more detail and address more of the “bad press.”

About Durst Kerridge

Durst Kerridge maintains an extensive commercial and complex civil litigation practice throughout Ohio. To schedule a consultation, call (513) 621-4999 or reach out to Alex J. Durst or Paul R. Kerridge.

Alex J. Durst

Alex J. Durst is a civil trial attorney with over a decade of experience handling commercial and complex civil litigation matters on behalf of clients across a wide range of industries, with an emphasis on financial services litigation and high-dollar-value breach of contract claims.

Contact Durst Today

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