Sometimes it feels like we live in a “sue happy” culture today where everyone sues someone for just about any reason. You aren’t far off. There seems to be more lawsuits that ever before…many of them feeling quite frivolous. Why all the lawsuits? Who has the time to deal with all this added expense, time, and outcomes?
Maybe we don’t have to…there are other solutions.
As a lawyer, I have seen my fair share of litigation. Sure, some of it can’t be resolved but there is a lot that can be resolved. Here are some reasons why you might want to rethink calling your attorney the next time someone wants to sue someone over an issue that could potentially be resolved in other ways.
Why you want to avoid lawsuits
Lawsuits are expensive
This probably goes without saying but still needs to be said. Whenever you decide to resolve something with a lawsuit you can get out your checkbook and be prepared to use it frequently. And it isn’t just the attorneys time you are paying for…there are many hidden costs to a lawsuit that most don’t realize until they are in it. Costs such as the courts, research, analysis, experts, and a host of other expenses that add up over time.
And there is one other factor to keep in mind…they take much longer than you ever imagined. Usually when the “can of worms” is opened there are many different factors that now come to light and these all take more time and money to figure out and resolve. There is rarely a way to have a lawsuit that doesn’t cost more and take longer than you most expect.
Lawsuits are a distraction
Besides being expensive and a huge time suck, they will also be a big distraction for you and your business…guaranteed. Lawsuits aren’t something that are easily delegated, like a project, for someone else to handle. They require involvement and this involvement takes you away from doing the things that make you money and keep you in business. Too many lawsuits can really dilute your efforts to run the business the way you want. This is a good time to evaluate the “opportunity cost” of a law suit…what opportunities are you losing by investing your time and resources in the lawsuit.
Lawsuits aren’t good marketing
This is often an area most people don’t think much about, until it is too late. Lawsuits can get press…whether it’s in the big news or just scattered through the internet. Either way, there is information out there that most likely doesn’t look good for you or your company. Others (potential customers and employees) can find this information without too much effort. It could be a deciding factor for either a prospective new customer or employee to decide to go somewhere else…especially if they find there are a number of lawsuits in your history.
Lawsuits often times cost more than the reward
If you ask most people who have been in litigation, unless the lawsuit is for large sums of money or other assets, the cost of the lawsuit (with all the hard and soft costs included) usually costs more than the benefit. Granted, you can say you won but to what benefit if it costs you more than you earned from the effort. There are certainly key situations, such as a patent violation or other area, where it might make sense for today and well in to the future, but for the most part, the benefits don’t outweigh the costs. Do some true and detailed analysis of what you think this could cost you (tangible and intangible) by being involved in the lawsuit. Then double it and you will be close to what it will end up costing you.
With all these reasons why you don’t want to get involved in a lawsuit, what can you do to still resolve your situation? Great question…and there are some very positive alternatives. Lawsuits can be avoided, the issue just needs to be evaluated and planned for in advance to stay away from the litigation pathway. This is where a competent business lawyer can be a great asset to your business. They should be able to help you avoid many of the lawsuits you think you might need if they get involved early and regularly. When we created Your Concierge CounselSM it was with this in mind…invest smaller amounts along the way to avoid the bigger amounts down the road.
There are ways to do negotiations without involving litigation. When issues are discovered early on there are generally many more alternatives available to discuss. Identify these with the help of your lawyer and they can start to lay out a plan for how to approach your situation without creating a lawsuit. Often times a lawsuit happens because the company or individuals are too far down the road and have eliminated many of the alternatives they had in the beginning. Discuss this early and map out your options and you will be amazed at how many options and alternatives there are when you are early in the process.
When you need to file a lawsuit, you should. But there are a lot of lawsuits being filed that don’t need to be…eliminate those and focus your efforts on the ones that need to be filed. A competent business lawyer can help you decide between the two…does this situation need to be resolved within the legal system or can it be resolved without involving the legal system? This is the key question you want answered whenever this situation arises. Answer it early and decide early…this will save you much more time and expense down the road.
What to do next…
Talk to your attorney well in advance of any expected situation arising from a potential lawsuit. Most can be avoided and save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches. Take our Risk Assessment for Business as a starting point for identifying if you might be at higher than normal risk for a potential lawsuit. Do an honest assessment with your attorney as to your exact situation and decide if you have any exposures or blind spots you might be missing.
If you ever have any questions about a lawsuit or a potential lawsuire or any other aspect of your business, just ask and we’ll be happy to answer them. Or if you just want to better understand how you can minimize and lower your risks (which every business owner wants) then please read some more about risk management and how you can help determine your own risk. I’d also be happy to meet with you (complimentary of course) to discuss your own personal situation further and give you some insights about how you might want to proceed.
I hope you have found this helpful and given you a different way to look at your business. If it has, please share this with others inside your company and your colleagues who are running or leading other businesses. Our primary mission at Generations Law Group, LLP is to help everyone find productive ways to lower their business AND personal risk. This is just one way you can start to do this…but it will tell you a lot about you and what has happened over the past few years with regard to your business risk. Let’s make sure your risk is as low as it can be while you continue to grow.