A few years ago, I wrote posts about technology and the law and about how litigation is depicted on television. As kind of a mash-up of these posts, I asked Google Gemini to write a blog post about litigation on television. And, to my surprise, the post was actually pretty insightful. So, below, I share that post and my commentary on it and on legal insights written by AI.

Why should you read this partially computer written post about litigation on television?

  • You somehow like this blog but you don’t like my writing.

  • You like television so much you like reading about television even though reading and television are kind of enemies.

  • You are yourself an AI bot and you want feedback.

Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Robot#/media/File:Mr._Robot_(26954869374).jpg

Law & Order vs. Law & Boredom: How Real-Life Commercial Litigation Differs from TV Dramas

Hollywood loves a good courtroom drama. From the high-stakes legal battles of “Suits” to the gritty underbelly of “The Lincoln Lawyer,” these shows have captivated audiences for decades. But how accurate are these portrayals of real-life commercial litigation? Buckle up, because we’re about to dissect the dramatic license Hollywood takes and unveil the often less glamorous, but more realistic, picture of commercial lawsuits.

The Pace: On TV, lawsuits are fast-paced, with dramatic twists and turns every episode. Witnesses burst onto the stand with game-changing evidence, lawyers deliver impassioned closing arguments, and verdicts are reached within a tight timeframe. Reality check: commercial litigation is a marathon, not a sprint. Cases can drag on for months, even years, filled with tedious document discovery, procedural motions, and pre-trial negotiations. The courtroom drama is often condensed into a single, climactic scene, while the true tension lies in the months of meticulous preparation and strategic maneuvering.

The Evidence: In TV land, evidence is often a smoking gun, a single piece that blows the case wide open. Think DNA samples in crime dramas or leaked emails in corporate lawsuits. Real-life commercial litigation, however, rarely hinges on one magic bullet. It’s more about building a compelling narrative using a mosaic of documents, witness testimonies, and expert opinions. This painstaking process requires meticulous attention to detail and a mastery of complex legal arguments.

The Lawyers: TV lawyers are flamboyant orators, weaving emotional stories and delivering fiery monologues. While skilled communication is certainly an asset, real-life commercial lawyers spend more time buried in paperwork than delivering Shakespearean soliloquies. Negotiation, strategic thinking, and an understanding of complex business issues are far more valuable assets than courtroom theatrics.

The Stakes: TV portrays lawsuits as battles of good versus evil, with millions of dollars and the fate of entire companies hanging in the balance. While high-stakes cases do exist, most commercial litigation revolves around more nuanced issues like breach of contract, intellectual property disputes, or regulatory compliance. The focus is often on resolving the dispute efficiently and avoiding the financial and reputational costs of a drawn-out trial.

Remember: While TV legal dramas entertain, they rarely reflect the true nature of commercial litigation. The reality is a world of meticulous procedures, strategic maneuvering, and complex legal arguments. So, the next time you find yourself enthralled by a thrilling courtroom scene, remember – the real drama often unfolds behind the scenes, far from the spotlight.

Bonus: Here are some real-life commercial litigation cases that highlight the stark difference from TV portrayals:

  • Apple vs. Samsung: This patent infringement case, spanning multiple countries and years of litigation, eventually settled with no clear “winner.” A far cry from the decisive verdicts common in TV dramas.

  • Enron Scandal: The investigation and subsequent lawsuits surrounding this corporate fraud case involved years of complex financial analysis and legal wrangling, showcasing the intricate nature of real-world white-collar crime cases.

  • Volkswagen Emissions Scandal: This case highlights the role of regulatory compliance and complex negotiations in resolving major commercial disputes.

Ultimately, understanding the realities of commercial litigation can help us appreciate the complexity of the legal system and the dedication of the professionals who navigate it. So, the next time you watch a legal drama, remember – the truth is often stranger, and far less dramatic, than fiction.

The Merits of What Google Gemini Wrote

Gemini is pretty much right about the pace issue. It didn’t even occur to me until I read it, but it’s correct. Although sometimes time is of the essence and there are dramatic moments, the vast majority of the time the work is slow. Describing it as a marathon and not a sprint is true (although trials have sprint-like elements, marathon is still more apt).

Gemini is also right about the evidence. That’s also an insight that didn’t occur to me until I saw it written out. But it’s true; the evidence I gather in cases is usually a bunch of documents that, in the aggregate, support a position (or some data that is consistent with my argument) and rarely (but not never) an emailed confession.

Gemini is also right about the lawyers. Some of the best litigators aren’t amazing public speakers, nor do they write emotional or powerful statements. They just know the law well, can write clearly, read carefully, and don’t deal with nonsense. While I believe I have a flair for dramatic presentations, I use that skill only sparingly in my work.

I disagree a little with Gemini on the stakes. While it is true that most cases aren’t a fight between good and evil, I do feel like a lot of lawyers view their clients as “the good guy” and the opposition as a bad actor or a greedy opportunist or an unfeeling jerk. I think maybe a more fitting observation (and one that Gemini noted in the Apple v. Samsung case) is that litigation often doesn’t have a “winner,” so good doesn’t often triumph over evil or vice versa. Most of the time, good compromises or gets some of what it wants.

Google Gemini’s Writing Style

I have to admit that the Gemini post is well-written. The pun in the title, knowing that “Order” rhymes with “Boredom,” is clever. Saying “buckle up” at the start of a post does a good job of presenting a fun, relaxed tone. And integrating examples (upon my request) after an introduction and well-organized subjects before a summary conclusion made the post both easy to read and informative.

I do think, however, that the examples were a little weak and didn’t really illustrate the same points as the subjects listed above the examples. I’m also not sure that the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal counts as commercial litigation, even though there were lawsuits, since the scandal itself arose from government oversight and nothing in the example commented on the real life work of litigators. Similarly, the Enron case was more about white collar crime than commercial litigation.

I also didn’t see a way for me to tell Gemini my format for these posts (the introduction, three bullet point section on why you should read the post, and three sub-headings) and get Gemini to fit that format. So I don’t think I’ll be delegating the blog to AI quite yet. But I am still very impressed and curious how the computer seemed to notice more about my work than I did.