What are Some Alternatives to Business Litigation?
One of the easiest alternatives to business litigation is negotiation. I always tell clients that before we get involved in a suit, we try to discern whether the parties involved can come to a resolution on their own, because it’s cheaper, faster, and less stressful.
Sometimes, we recommend that the parties negotiate one-to-one first, without counsel involved. This is because the parties are often closer to the facts, and can come up with solutions that are creative and specific to their industry.
If parties cannot resolve the issue on their own, then attorney-to-attorney negotiation can be a good next step, because attorneys are usually further removed from the situation. We often don’t have the same emotional investment in the matter that a party will have and are able to look at the facts more objectively. The attorneys at The Lipp Law Firm are familiar with other law firms that practice in our jurisdictions and line of work. We often have a good relationship with opposing counsel, and we’re able to approach them on a friendly, professional basis. After considering the situation from purely legal standpoint, we attorneys can often return to our clients with a proposal that both sets of lawyers are on board with, and that can go a long way.
If we need to move toward formal conflict resolution, there are several alternatives available. Mediation is one option. This is when a neutral, third-party mediator gets involved to provide an impartial perspective. The mediator is often a retired judge or semi-retired attorney who’s skilled in the subject of the dispute. They consider the parties’ arguments and work with both sides to craft a solution that’s acceptable to both parties. Sometimes, having the input of a mediator, who’s not partial to one side or the other, allows everyone to see the flaws and strengths of the case and move closer to a resolution.
Another alternative is arbitration. Arbitration is essentially a type of private litigation. The process is often slower and more expensive than traditional litigation, but it doesn’t have the same strict rules. Arbitration also offers more privacy. Oftentimes, arbitrations are kept entirely confidential. Arbitration can also offer faster closure since arbitrator decisions cannot usually be appealed like a court decision can. If we have a case that deals with particularly sensitive subject matter, such as healthcare or politics, or a case that is likely to draw unwanted media attention, arbitration can be a better alternative, and help to avoid scandal or mushrooming problems for the client’s reputation.
How Can I Protect My Business from Potential Lawsuits?
The best way to protect your business against a potential lawsuit is by keeping up with routine maintenance. Consulting with your lawyer once or twice a year to make sure that everything is running smoothly is important. At our firm, for each client who’s interested, we set up an annual off-the-clock review, during which we speak to the client and talk about what’s going on in their business. We help them spot places where they may have legal exposure and identify solutions that they can implement on the front end.
The best thing a company can do to limit exposure is have a solid set of standard policies in place so that if something goes sideways, the company has a means of knowing how to address it internally. If the company does not have policies or procedures to address common issues or does nothing to resolve issues when they arise, the issues can snowball into potential litigation matters. Contrarywise, if an issue comes up, the proper procedures are in place, and the company follows them as written, many problems, lawsuits, and even litigation can be avoided.
As a company grows more sophisticated, its policies often need to become more sophisticated as well. Some companies don’t consult with a lawyer for several years after they put their initial policies in place, by which time the business has changed drastically and the policies are far out of date. Therefore, it is essential to talk to your business attorney at least once or twice a year, even when there are no active conflicts in the play. In doing so, you are proactively protecting your business interests on the front end.
For more information on Alternatives to Business Litigation in Virginia, Maryland and DC, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (571) 660-4077 today.
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