Leading Foreclosure Defense Attorney Troy Doucet Discusses ‘The Art of War for Lawyers’ and the 5 Factors for Success in Legal Battles

Attorney Troy Doucet, a leading foreclosure defense attorney with Doucet Gerling, recently appeared on The Litigation War Room podcast with host Maxwell Goss

In a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, Doucet covers his book, “The Art of War for Lawyers,” as well as how to develop a winning strategy and the five factors every litigator needs to master to get great results for clients. He also dives into his foreclosure defense practice and his new legal e-learning venture.

Leading the Way in Foreclosure Defense

Doucet’s career started in the mortgage industry. There, he gained knowledge and experience that would influence his later career in law. 

While Doucet was in law school, the practice area of foreclosure defense didn’t exist in the form that it does today. But because of his unique background and qualifications in this arena, Doucet did a lot of foreclosure defense work — so much so that he published his first book, “23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure,” before he graduated from law school. (Doucet and his business partner recently updated the book to include 27 defenses to foreclosure.)

Doucet quickly became a leading authority in foreclosure defense and has helped countless people fight foreclosures both directly through litigation and indirectly through his first book.

Online Learning as a Marketing Tool

In addition to being an accomplished litigator and author, Doucet is something of a serial entrepreneur. He attributes his ongoing need to start new projects to his upbringing in a military family, but regardless of the cause, one of the effects is an innovative e-learning platform for attorneys and consumers.

The platform is eLearning.Law. It’s a project that Doucet is actively building for various areas of the law, and he hopes to add courses (and attorneys who will add their own courses) for a wide range of practice areas. The main idea, Doucet said, is that some people may not be able to afford an attorney’s regular fee, but they could afford the fee for an online course taught by that attorney.

There’s a market for legal knowledge, as evidenced by massive websites like Nolo and LegalZoom, but Doucet sees another possible benefit of his e-learning platform for attorneys. When you give away in-depth knowledge on a legal topic, you establish yourself as an authority on that topic. Much like publishing a book on a subject, conducting a virtual course on that subject builds credibility. And credibility, Doucet said, can translate to more clients.

‘The Art of War for Lawyers’

In the 5th century BC, ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu published his widely known strategy and combat treatise, “The Art of War.” Almost 2,500 years later, Doucet applied a litigation lens to the text, and the result was his second book, “The Art of War for Lawyers.”

In the book, Doucet directly applies the wisdom of Sun Tzu to the battlefield of litigation.

“It lays out this landscape for somebody to really internalize and understand the nature of litigation, the nature of people, the nature of conflict, the nature of the world, and how we all interact together in it,” Doucet said. “That's what this book is about.” 

In the ancient book, Sun Tzu lays out five key factors for success in battle. Doucet applies these to litigation in his adaptation.

Five Factors for Success in Battle

The five factors for success in battle, as well as how they apply to litigation in the modern day, are as follows:

  1. Moral law. Moral law refers to the pervasive moral forces that cause people to be in agreement with their rulers so that they follow them with little regard for their own safety. Applied to litigation, this is the justness of the cause for which you are fighting.
  2. Heaven. Heaven is about the weather and environs, such as the time of day, the temperature and the season. In litigation, it’s the court and the judge and all of the difficult-to-control factors that come along with those.
  3. Earth. In Sun Tzu’s view, earth is the distances great and small and the terrain, which can determine the risk of success or death. In Doucet’s litigation interpretation, the earth is the facts of the case, the client, the opposing party and the applicable law you’re dealing with.
  4. Commander. The commander is the military commander whose virtues become decisive factors on the battlefield. In modern-day courtrooms, the commanders are the attorneys in charge, as well as their individual abilities and the resources of their firms.
  5. Methods and discipline. On the battlefield, methods and discipline are about training, formations, ranks and similar considerations. In the courtroom, methods and discipline are the training and systems in place at your law firm.

Negotiating the Litigation Battlefield

The five factors for success in litigation are not meant to be read and relegated to some dusty corner of the mind. They are meant to be applied actively, as you would apply them in battle.

“You not only have to understand these five things, but you should rate them,” Doucet said. “Rate them on a scale of one to five against each other. Which side is more just? Which side do you think the court or the judge is going to favor?”

Assess where you stand on each of these factors to determine your chance of success and whether you should proceed. In the end, it’s about meeting your clients’ objectives.

“As Sun Tzu says in the manual, the pinnacle of success is not using the book at all,” Doucet said. “It's about being such a force that you're walking in and you're getting a settlement, you're getting a resolution — you're meeting your client's objective without even firing a shot.”

Listen to the full podcast episode to learn more about Doucet, his foreclosure defense practice, his legal e-learning platform and his book.