Preventing Litigation was endorsed by RICHARD SUSSKIND, author of Tomorrow's Lawyers, who wrote:

"As a lawyer or client, if you prefer a fence at the top of a cliff to an ambulance at the bottom,
this insightful book is essential reading."


The following chapter excerpt is taken directly from
Preventing Litigation: An Early Warning System to Get Big Value Out of Big Data
By Nelson E. Brestoff and W.H. Inmon
(Business Expert Press 2015)

Chapter 8

What is “preventive law”?

The primary reason each of the first four people who we asked to join our Board of Advisors said “yes” was that they had some connection to Professor Brown or his teachings.  So what is “preventive law”?  You already know it by various sayings and proverbs:

“It usually costs less to avoid getting into trouble than to pay for getting out of trouble.”
Louis M. Brown (1909-1996)[1]


“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency that which should not be done at all.”
Peter F. Drucker[2]


“The best victory is … to win without fighting.”
Sun Tzu[3]


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Benjamin Franklin[4]

This last proverb is well known to all of us, even in our digital age.  The modern application is this:  Back up your computer (frequently) and hit “save” even as you’re writing, even after only a few pages. 

There’s even a saying in Latin that covers the point.  The Latin is Praemonitus praemunitus, which means “forewarned is forearmed.”[5]

So now we know that this notion of the value of “prevention” goes back a very long way.  Today we speak in terms of preventive maintenance and preventive medicine.  But law?  No.

And with that, let’s return to preventive law and its modern-day founding father, Professor Brown.  His philosophy was this:  “The time to see an attorney is when you’re legally healthy – certainly before the advent of litigation, and prior to the time legal trouble occurs.” 

And Professor Brown practiced what he preached, launching a program when he was President of the Beverly Hills Bar Association to give free legal advice to young couples before they were married. 

Right or wrong, Nick remembers Professor Brown saying (in the 1972 to 1975 timeframe) that he once had a client with a fleet of trucks and had to defend the company when, at various times and under various circumstances, the truck drivers had gotten into accidents.  What Professor Brown noticed, he said, was that the case facts had one thing in common:  The drivers had gotten into these accidents when they were making left hand turns. 

So should he keep on earning fees for defending these cases?  No, Professor Brown said.  Instead, he advised the company to have a policy that its drivers should instead make three rights.  At the time, Professor Brown wasn’t making this policy suggestion to save on time or gas; right turns were just safer turns to make. 

In other words, Professor Brown was making a business case for “preventive law.”

Nick can’t recall if Professor Brown’s story pertained to UPS or not.  Probably not.  But UPS has this precisely this policy today.  In 2008, D. Scott Davis, UPS’s Chairman and former CEO, gave a speech in Los Angeles entitled “Right Turn at the Right Time.”  The focus of the speech was the value of a company’s reputation, but the “right turn” policy also came up.  And what Scott Davis said about the “right turn” policy was this:

“We carefully map-out routes for all our drivers to reduce the number of left-hand turns they make.
Now get this:  In 2007 alone, this helped us:

• Shave nearly 30 million miles off already streamlined delivery routes;

• Save 3 million gallons of gas; and

• Reduce CO2 emissions by 32,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 5,300 passenger cars from the road for an entire year.” [6]

So Mr. Davis was praising the policy because there were fewer miles driven and less gasoline burned. 

Let’s monetize Dr. Davis’s figures.  Suppose a mile driven costs the company $0.50 per mile.  Then saving 30 million miles saves $15 million.  Now suppose that the cost of gas is only $3.00 per gallon.  By these lights, saving 3 million gallons of gas saved UPS another $9 million.  

So this Make Right Turns policy may be rooted in safety, as in fewer deaths and injuries, which means fewer lawsuits, but combined with the $24 million in benefits that Mr. Davis was citing, the Make Right Turns policy is a terrific example of Professor Brown’s teachings. 

The point is that a solid business case for “preventive law” is not hard to fathom.

A computer-based early warning system to avoid litigation doesn’t necessarily mean there will be fewer miles driven, or lower CO2 emissions, or even fewer collisions.  But in the context of product liability cases, prevention could mean fewer lawsuits, and, by inference, fewer deaths and fewer injuries.

So an early warning system offers the prospect of a big risk reduction plus a big cost reduction, and that’s a powerful combination.  It adds up to this:

Big Change.

__________

[1]  Louis M. Brown. 1950.  Manual of Preventive Law.  (New York:  Prentice-Hall, Inc.) (cited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proactive_law).

[2]  Peter Drucker.  May,1963.  Managing for Business Effectiveness.  Harvard Business Review, p. 83.

[3]  See http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu (The Art of Warfare Ch. 3 (circa 5th century BC)).

[4]  See www.ushistory.org/franklin/quotable/quote67.htm

[5]  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praemonitus_praemunitus.

[6]  D. Scott Davis.  2008.  “Right Turn at the Right Time.”  http://pressroom.ups.com/About+UPS/UPS+Leadership/Speeches/D.+Scott+Davis/Right+Turn+at+the+Right+Time, (last accessed April 8, 2015).