The dog days of summer are those few weeks in late July and August when it’s too hot and muggy to do anything but lie around.
We get those days in litigation too, when the temperature of the case goes cold.
When you first file a complaint or get served with one, things are hot. That goes double for your emotions.
There’s a lot to do quickly, just to figure out where you stand.
In those early stages, you have a litigation strategy to develop and execute. You have important pleadings to file. You need lots of research to analyze and understand your case.
But if you survive past the pleadings — when you get into the nuts and bolts of discovery — things often seem to slow to a crawl.
You’ve got interrogatories to answer. You’ve maybe fired off a set of your own.
Perhaps you’ve asked your opponent for some documents, or you’re sitting on their request for your files.
There are likely to be objections from you or the other side. Or you may ignore each other’s requests completely.
Regardless, the pace of the case has now cooled considerably. You have time to get back to your life, those people or projects your case had put on the back burner.
But this is a dangerous time and place.
You see, what feels like dog days of litigation for you may not feel that way for your opponent.
Their research may be far advanced, and continuing. They may be preparing a whole suite of filings that may change the direction of the case.
They could be getting ready to stipulate for trial.
The point is this: you’re up to speed on your litigation strategy, not theirs.
Most of our opponents have lawyers, and unlike them, we don’t do this for a living. So yes, by all means, take a breather when you can.
But don’t let your case get cold. Keep your files, research and analysis on a warmer.
Study the elements of your case and the law that applies to them. Review your case notes often, just to stay fresh. Keep a schedule to practice your oral arguments.
Don’t stop thinking about the next steps. Rest, but don’t sleep.
Have you been caught off guard after a slowdown in your case? Are there other stages besides discovery where your case has cooled off? Share in the comments below.