You can’t. But it’s amazing how people keep trying to ignore that old gorilla.
As I’ve mentioned, I was listening to a panel of General Counsel share some stories last week. This story was told by one of them. The took a case to trial. And got hammered. Way beyond what trial counsel had predicted as a worst case. As the GC said, "okay, it happens." So he’s waiting for a call from the trial lawyer or the relationship partner. The phone is silent. So finally after a couple of days, he arranges a meeting with the relationship lawyer. When the meeting starts, the lawyer looks at the GC and says, "okay, what do you want to discuss?" Needless to say, the GC was floored. I think it’s safe to say the relationship didn’t continue as before, though that was not explicitly stated.
The near universal reaction to this story is laughter and disbelief. But the story is true. So let’s look for a couple of lessons. First, does anyone think the GC didn’t find out about the bad result? After all, don’t lots of companies remain blissfully ignorant of large verdicts against them? So the GC then had the delightful task of talking to the CEO without input from their law firm. Don’t ever let clients hear bad news from someone else.
Second, when summoned, don’t ignore the gorilla. It’s not like the GC doesn’t know it’s there. You just look foolish when you ignore the obvious.
Third, nobody can guarantee great results every time. You don’t look bad by acknowledging disappointment in the result. Come ready to work out a plan to fix what happened.
These are the obvious lessons. There are others, and perhaps people will offer their lessons learned from this example in comments.