Disputes are inevitable, and some you simply cannot resolve yourself.
You need an attorney who can find the important facts, analyze and explain your rights and risks, listen to and help shape your goals, and propose and execute a strategy that leads to a cost-effective solution. You also need someone who understands the stresses that litigation creates, can help budget the costs involved, and whose philosophy and style is suited to yours.
Dispute resolution is a craft. There is no standard protocol, but it’s not an incomprehensible black box, either. The following informs our advice and strategy in every case we handle.
- Frontload the Case. Determine the client’s goals. Create a case strategy as soon as possible. Identify and gather the key documents and witness statements. Information is king, and will drive you toward a stronger settlement position. Litigation isn’t so much a process of overwhelming the other side, as it is being the first to learn what must be known about the case.
- Listen for Settlement Opportunities. Settlements have significant value; they bring certainty, free up resources for money-making activities, and let cash be used for additional investments. Not all settlement opportunities are good ones, but a good opportunity should not be overlooked in the hopes that something better might come down the road. The search for settlement also begins before litigation is filed.
- Prioritize and Economize. Litigation is expensive, and a matter should be disputed only when it gains something of value. The priority goes to what is needed for trial and to drive a favorable settlement. If possible, litigation events should fit around the business’ operations and not the other way around.
- Cost Management. Estimating the cost of litigation is like estimating your health costs for the next five years: there are simply too many unknowns. Still, certain costs can be determined in advance, such as preparing a complaint, opposing a motion, or taking a deposition. You can also estimate how many depositions would be needed, or how long the trial might be. When possible, we advise you as to the cost of a particular task, and do our best to advise you of months where expenses might be higher than they were previously.
- Fastballs, not Curveballs. Litigation is expensive enough without gamesmanship, and cases can be won without it. One can be tough and thorough, yet professional and courteous. One can grant extensions without appearing weak. Traps rarely work, and clear, direct argument is almost always the most persuasive.