Becker & Poliakoff

Kobayashi Maru: How to Approach the No-Win Scenario 

Kobayashi Maru: How to Approach the No-Win Scenario 

Becker & PoliakoffI was a double major in college while also playing Division I football. One of the advantages of being a student athlete in college is that the athletic department had academic counselors watching our academic activities throughout the course of the school year. About two weeks before my college graduation I received a phone call from one of my academic counselors. She informed me that I was only going to graduate with a degree in one of my two majors, and not both.

The issue was that with one of my two majors I was one class short to earn my degree. However, when I reviewed the situation, I realized that a course I had taken as part of a dual enrollment program in high school fit the necessary criteria to satisfy that academic major and graduate with a double major.

I went to speak with the head of the department to explain my case to him. He told me that no one had ever done such a thing before and that he would be reviewing the coursework I had taken as part of the dual enrollment program to determine if it satisfied the last class I needed to take.

It certainly helped that I was a good student in college, because after about a week he called me back into his office and explained to me that he was accepting the course I had taken in high school. He also applauded my effort in turning the no-win situation into a “winner” because no one had ever presented him with a similar proposal.

I was reminded of that situation watching the Miami Dolphins defeat the New England Patriots in a very improbable ending last Sunday. The Dolphins made the most of a no-win scenario and won a football game by deploying a play they had worked on in practice.

Captain Kirk in Star Trek found a way to pass the Kobayashi Maru, the ultimate no-pass test, just like the Miami Dolphins found a way to win a football game, and much like I found a way to graduate on time with a double major in college. Captain Kirk goes down in Star Trek lore as being the only person to have ever passed a test that was designed to never be passed by any student. He certainly took a no-win situation and turned it into a winner, creating part of the mystique behind Captain Kirk being someone you always want on your side when times get tough.

These are illustrations of no-win scenarios we are all placed in on a daily basis in different walks of life. But working to find a creative solution to the problem is something we as lawyers work on every day.

Clients often come to me with tough cases that appear to be no-win scenarios. But through active discovery, creative thinking, and utilizing other available tools we can perhaps find a path to turn a no-win case into a winner.  Call me today if you feel like you are facing a no-win legal situation to determine if we can find a way to turn that no-win scenario around. Litigation can be expensive and time consuming. It’s better to understand and evaluate your options early rather than later, especially if you feel as if you are confronted with a no-win legal scenario. There may still be a way to turn it around!