top of page

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Give credit where credit is due.

A corollary: Never take credit which is not deserved.

A few months ago, I tried a case and got a good result. I was brought on board about nine months before trial. I pared the case down and formulated the trial strategy. I was lead counsel at trial, doing over 90% of the case. I was ably assisted by a newer lawyer from the referring firm, but it was clearly my case and my win.

When the outcome was reported in the legal press, a senior lawyer from that firm also put his name on the case report. During the trial, he never came to the courthouse. He had limited hands-on involvement in the pre-trial workup of the matter.

I was not happy.

I should be the bigger man. I should just brush this off. The misplaced claim of credit says something about the individual making it, but it does not denigrate my success. It will not hurt my efforts to expand referral sources. Everyone who matters knows who tried this case. In the end, the only damage was to my vanity – and my ego has amazing regenerative abilities. It is just not a big deal.

Well, that is all a good theory. It is how things ought to be. Reality is, of course, a bit different. I am human.

Anyway, I will get over this slight.

As is my custom on this platform, I will use this as a teachable moment. Before you assert your part in a victory, consider how you would have handled a defeat. Would you have shared responsibility – and admitted it publicly? Would you be gracious to your colleagues? Would you have avoided second guessing the judgment calls of others involved?

Credit and blame are flip sides of the same coin. A similar standard applies to both.

In my example, if the case had turned out poorly, would that other lawyer have taken any responsibility for the bad outcome?

No comment.

Bottom line: If you would not be willing to own a loss, you cannot claim the win.


bottom of page