Mitchell Capp is a commercial trial lawyer and strategic advisor at McDonald Hopkins who focuses primarily on business counseling and litigation. He has extensive experience aggressively litigating business disputes and is licensed to practice in in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. He’s appeared in state and federal courts throughout the country, including jury and non-jury trials.
Lawyer Minds: What types of cases do you handle?
Mitchell Capp: A lot. I always smile when I get this question because there is no way for me to give the concise “elevator speech” answer. In short, I am a commercial trial lawyer – and I focus on business litigation and counseling. I handle cases ranging from minor contractual disagreements to eight-figure manufacturing and supply chain disputes. I also counsel clients on risk transfer and other pro-active methods of avoiding potential litigation.
The beautiful thing about my practice is that I have the privilege – and ultimate challenge – of becoming an expert in a variety of different fields and industries, including labor and employment, construction, finance, insurance, automotive, cyber security, manufacturing, tax, intellectual property, and white-collar crime, just to name a few.
Lawyer Minds: What efforts do you make to give back to your local community and why?
Mitchell Capp: I give back to young lawyers through various bar associations and mentorships. I also give back to the youth in my community through coaching. I was fortunate enough to have many great role models and mentors in my life and I feel I owe them by passing the baton to the next wave of aspiring young people. I simply love to teach and be a resource for those who want to learn.
Lawyer Minds: What do you feel are the three main attributes of a successful lawyer?
Mitchell Capp: (1) Character and integrity, first and foremost. The best lawyers are genuine and inherently credible.
(2) The ability to see the full picture, objectively. At our core, lawyers are expert problem solvers. While research, writing, and analysis are the fundamental tools of any successful lawyer, it is the skill to expertly and objectively understand the totality of the particular issue, including all of the parties’ distinct interests, that allows lawyers to devise a sound strategy to solve the overall problem in our client’s best interests. This ability sets great lawyers apart from good lawyers. Unfortunately, many lawyers are overly subjective and focus on being a pure advocate for their client, without realizing that their “hardball” tactics may not actually be in the best interest of their client.
(3) Emotional intelligence and communication. The final piece of the puzzle is a lawyer’s aptitude to effectively communicate with all of the different people and distinct interests involved in their day-to-day practice. This includes listening as much as it does speaking. Communication with staff, other lawyers, clients, opposing counsel, the judge and court staff, witnesses, experts and other third-parties all require their own nuanced methods. This quality is really an art that all lawyers can and should continue to develop.
The ability to see the full picture, objectively. At our core, lawyers are expert problem solvers. While research, writing, and analysis are the fundamental tools of any successful lawyer, it is the skill to expertly and objectively understand the totality of the particular issue, including all of the parties’ distinct interests, that allows lawyers to devise a sound strategy to solve the overall problem in our client’s best interests. This ability sets great lawyers apart from good lawyers.
Lawyer Minds: What advice would you give to a person who is seeking legal representation for the first time?
Mitchell Capp: Set aside pre-judgment and stereotypes and get to know your lawyer, as a person. Who are they? What makes them tick? What is their “why”? I hear all too often how there is a general distrust of lawyers and they only care about the billable hours. There are bad apples in every profession and every walk of life. At the same time, there are people of high character and honorable values who happen to be lawyers. Find them and you will have a legal resource that you can count on for the long run.
Lawyer Minds: What was it like when you got your first win for a client?
Mitchell Capp: Although I didn’t make it professionally, I grew up an athlete who loved to compete under the big lights. I enjoyed many great wins as a player, both individually, and as part of a team. A trial lawyer in the courtroom was the closest thing I could envision to playing under the lights. That first success on behalf of a client was a greater accomplishment than any previous athletic success, because it was intellectual success, something I find far more challenging. And it felt all the more rewarding because it was selfless; I acted on behalf of someone else’s interests.
A trial lawyer in the courtroom was the closest thing I could envision to playing under the lights.
Lawyer Minds: If you could put a billboard up—that’s not an advertisement—what would it say?
Mitchell Capp: Faith is to believe in what you do not yet see; the reward for faith is to see what you believe.
Lawyer Minds: Why do you take the cases that you do?
Mitchell Capp: Every case presents its own unique problems; and for me, problems are opportunities in disguise. I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to assist people with solving their problems. While I may not equally enjoy every case, there is never a dull moment in my practice.
Lawyer Minds: What are the essential building blocks for any law firm?
Mitchell Capp: People and Core Values are fundamental elements of what I would consider a “destination law firm,” like mine. McDonald Hopkins is founded upon the values of integrity, client service, teamwork, entrepreneurship, and quality of life. These values resonate with myself and my colleagues and have translated into a wonderful work environment.
Lawyer Minds: Are there any organizations you involve yourself with that you’d recommend to young lawyers?
Mitchell Capp: I would highly recommend joining the state and local bar associations in order to develop networks with your peers and gain insight from industry leaders and experts who have come before you, including judges. I would also recommend joining more specialized organizations in your particular fields of interest. Lastly, I think it is critically important to get involved with organizations outside of the legal profession (i.e., finance, investments, entrepreneurial workshops, sporting clubs, etc.) where you can organically meet new people and develop genuine relationships.
Lawyer Minds would like to thank Mitchell Capp for sharing his wonderful insights with our readers.