Attorney Raymond Krueger's short-form rules about representing small companies against giants reminds me of a similar set of "hip pocket" guidelines that we developed after our tiny company endured an agonizing legal ordeal:

1.If you are suing for less than $25,000, forget it. Even if you win, you will, at best, break even.

2. Sue only if you are willing to accept corporate suicide as a reasonable outcome. The legal bills are guaranteed to cripple, if not outright kill you.

3. If you are sued by someone bigger than you, you have already lost. The facts of the case are of secondary importance to legal prowess. How much legal prowess you get is directly related to the depth of your pocketbook.

4. If, in spite of it all, you decide to go to court, be prepared to pay your attorney promptly. An unpaid attorney will very quickly stop representing your best interests and begin representing his own.

5. Don't ever show the slightest sign that you are willing to settle. The unreasonable party wins.


The author replies: Mr. Swanson's list is a splendid addendum to Mr. Krueger's. I would draw special attention to two of his rules.

One, although "corporate suicide" is a legitimate worry, it must be balanced against the demoralizing effects of easy capitulation, which can be another form of untimely death on the corporate battlefield.

Two, it helps if your attorney's and your company's mutual interests go beyond retainer payments. William E. Glassner Jr., Henri's main counsel, was well qualified to direct the litigation and handsomely paid for his efforts; being a company director, however, he also had more than an academic interest in the suit's outcome. While not always a labor of love, his fight on Henri's behalf was an act of passion and tenacity. In this case, anyway, passion and tenacity beat some long and highly unfavorable odds.

"Lethargic" is not how I would describe my characterization of Henri's during the time of the lawsuit; perhaps the better term would be "distracted." There is no doubt in my mind that Henri's was and is a resourceful, innovative manufacturing company; such innovation surely did not cease during the long period of litigation. Still, I heard from many others connected to Henri's that the cost of fighting Kraft, fiscal and otherwise, had a retarding effect on many areas of the operation. That was my larger point.Indeed, mention of the Fuji machine was there merely to illustrate that flair for getting things done. At the time, Mr. Bayless told me that his team had, in fact, experienced some difficulties with then machine and had modified it accordingly -- a resourceful act if ever there was one.

Joseph P. Kahn