James Bond’s sidearm of choice, the Walther PPK. Tomascastelazo via Wikimedia Commons.

Mid-conversation with a client last week, I’d passed the point of exasperation.

Good grief, Dave, we’ve been through this before.  Why didn’t you call me BEFORE you filed this thing?!  

I’ve known Dave* for a few years.  He’s a patent litigator, and I’ve handled a few Hague Service Requests for him in those few years, but they all went to countries where translation was not an issue.  Even at that, they’d usually only involved one or two actual patents.  This time… a seventy-page complaint, exhibiting five patents, each about twenty pages long with tiny print, and going to three different countries.  All of which are Hague Service Convention parties, and all of which require translation.

You can see where this is going.  Several years ago, I posted Keeping Translation Costs Down, Part Deux (for Patent Litigators), where I suggested that, instead of attaching patents to the Complaint as exhibits, why not simply incorporate them by reference?  Some of my clients have done precisely that, providing a link to the PTO’s website so the patents at issue could be readily accessed with a single click (everything is on PACER now anyway, amirite?), and keeping the pleadings to a short and plain statement of the claim.  Their bills… minimized as much as possible.

Oh, but not Dave.  Dave is an old-school lawyer who thinks he gets paid by the word.  Put everything in there but the kitchen sink.  This is war, and Dave’s coming loaded for bear.

His costs– just for translation– were slightly north of $70,000.  That wasn’t even the frustrating part– after all, I’m not the guy footing the bill.

The frustrating part was that Dave only called me after his senior partner hollered “LOCK AND LOAD!” and the case was filed & ready to serve.  Dave only called me after he misnamed two of his offshore defendants.  Dave only called me after he’d used his one free amendment-as-a-matter-of-course.  I could have saved him a whole lot of heartache, and I could have saved his client a massive pile of cash.

Y’all, “trigger time” is not when you should tap me on the shoulder.  That time is before you even chamber a round.

* No, his name is not really Dave.  Yes, I’ve known him for years.  Details have been changed here to protect the innocent, but this illustrates a conversation I have at least once a month, with new clients and longtime clients alike.  My frustration level varies directly with the amount of money they could have saved if they’d only called me before they filed.