The best way to acquire skills is to learn from the masters. Find the exemplars in your chosen profession and imitate them until you're ready to go it alone.
The best lawyers, for instance, ferret out the facts relevant to their cases and thoroughly research the precedents that apply. They prepare carefully for trials and present their cases in the most compelling way possible.
There's something to be learned from the elusive bottom feeders as well. It pays to study loose practices and do the opposite.
Andrew Cross and Francis Flynn of the Carey & Danis law firm of Clayton, Mo., set a particularly bad example late last month, prompting U.S. District Judge David Herndon to dismiss their 23 lawsuits against Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals.
The suits alleged that Bayer's oral contraceptives Yasmin, Yaz, and Ocella had caused gall bladder injuries, strokes, and vein disorders. But Cross and Flynn failed to supply sufficient evidence substantiating the claims.
The fact sheets submitted by Cross and Flynn, as required by Judge Herndon, left out vital information. "For example, not one plaintiff submitted all required authorizations," noted defense attorney John Galvin of FoxGalvin in St. Louis.
"In addition, in most cases, plaintiffs did not sign the plaintiff fact sheet declaration or provide responsive and substantially complete answers to plaintiff fact sheet questions regarding personal and family medical history," Galvin continued.
"Instead, plaintiffs responded to these questions by stating 'see medical records,' even though most have not produced medical records."
Cross and Flynn apparently made little effort to customize their cases, instead using a cookie-cutter approach and merely changing out the injuries alleged and the states of residence for each client.
Nor did they apparently bother to seek proper venues for clients who did not reside in Illinois but in 17 other states.
More than 100 plaintiffs voluntarily have dismissed their claims since Judge Herndon started requiring fact sheets earlier this year. Cross and Flynn's fact-poor filings are an example to learn from.