When I first started trying employment discrimination cases, I tried a lot of them. They were new and difficult to evaluate, plus defendants repeatedly denied they had done anything wrong. Either the plaintiff"couldn't take a joke,"or "she was a nut" and nothing that bad happened or the plaintiff was a bad actor, bad employee, slut, liar or cheat. Quickly, I discovered that juries did not like these defenses. I got few significant offers, and many good verdicts. Back then, I, and others in the legal community thought talking about settlement was a sign of weakness and the lawyer lacked "balls."
Then there came a push for alternate dispute remedies, meaning either arbitrations or mediations. While arbitrations suck, mediations started to make some sense. I started exploring settlement at a much earlier point the parties were less dug in, less insulted by the depositions and litigation and more likely to want to go one with their lives. As litigation progresses for years and years, people get less patient and more angry. Trials can be unavoidable, when you get offer or no legitimate offers. Then going to trial is a much easier decision.
People say no one wins by going to trial. That's not true. Sometimes people win and win a lot. The purpose of settlement is to eliminate risk and if the offer is deminimus, why not take the risk? That's how big verdicts happen.
Lately, I make one attempt to settle a case early on in virtually every case if I can eliminate my client's stress and turmoil with a fair enough return. Being a party to a lawsuit is no fun. It can be embarrassing , stressful, and inconvenient. The stress can be almost unbearable for parties. If I can't reasonably settle the case early on, on I go with litigation. My clients are brave and most of them can endure these rigors and sometimes cases never settle and the result ends up being wonderful. But there sure is risk involved. I trust juries but it is hard to hand your future to strangers.
Trials can be fun for lawyers. I have had several fun trials. Unfortunately, it's the lawyers who have fun and very rarely the plaintiff, who has little control over what happens in Court. One thing we lawyers need to continually remind ourselves is the cases and the trials are not ours, they belong to our clients and our clients' best interest must always come before the lawyers' interest. Always!