What’s Your Backup Plan?


Four plays and out. The year of hype; the coverage; the expectations – and with one play it’s over. Doesn’t matter if you’re a football fan, a Jets fan, or an Aaron Rodgers fan. That’s not the way it should have ended. But was it a possibility? Come on – you’d have to be crazy to not think that Rodgers could get injured, and you’d need a backup plan. Watching Eli and Peyton Manning on their Monday Night Football show, it was pretty obvious that they thought it was laughable that Zach Wilson was the backup plan – obvious because – well – they actually laughed.

I’m a Seahawk fan so I don’t know if I give one iota about this Wilson (I continue to not give an iota about another Wilson, too – due to the aforementioned Seahawk fan status); but what I do think is interesting is how much criticism he is receiving. As I watch pundit after pundit, and hear quote after quote, some of which are supposedly coming from inside the Jets locker-room, I can’t help but 1) feel bad for Wilson, and 2) shake my head at what appears to be the lack of a workable backup plan. If he’s “that bad” then why is he still #2, or still on the team? Wasn’t last year’s record enough to say “enough”?

All of this made me think about trial teams and trial. So often, we hear trial “war” stories about a critical piece of evidence that was supposed to get in, or maybe that was NOT supposed to get in. Or, about the attorney who was going to do opening, but something unexpected happened so the whole team is shuffled. The Jets have reminded us all – we need backup plans, and here are a few tips for putting yours into place:

  • For the trial team – if you’re QB #1, what are you doing now to train your “Zach Wilsons” to be game ready? We work with a litigation team that has the associates present at the mock trials. They are put into teams, and they work each side of the case up as if they were going to present at the real trial instead of the mock. They learn how to be fantastic presenters from early in their careers, so when their number is called either by design or because of a back-plan, they’re ready. It is not enough to “let them” handle the examination of one minor witness or make a mundane argument to the court. They have to learn to handle the pressure in a pressure situation.
  • For evidence – be realistic. We hear nearly every case we work on that such-in-such evidence is “definitely” getting in (or not). Pre-trial hearings come about and, turns out, you were wrong. You’ve got to be realistic about every one of your “hot” docs, and this comes through an honest internal assessment. Second, have a back-up plan – what does it change if it doesn’t get in? Have you tested the case without it? If you think it’s that much of a game-changer, then test the case with it in and test it without (do so with at least two groups of mock jurors hearing each scenario). Learn what you need to do in the situation without it to overcome the deficit. This is also true for the reverse – when you’re so sure that you’ll be able to keep something out with a MIL. Over the years, we’ve done this countless times and what is  surprising is how often that supposed “hot doc” (or the worrisome doc) did not make as much of a difference as the trial team suspected.

The primary point is don’t be the Jets. Sure, Rodgers brought you more fans and attention, but it also brought expectations. And all those expectations came crashing to the ground as he was sacked the fourth play of the season on 1st and 10.

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