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The Essential Truth About Lawsuits:

Either there is agreement about everything in the case that needs to be resolved or you go through the litigation process.The litigation process ends when the case gets dismissed or when a judge or arbitrator decides all issues (and if an appeal of the rulings is taken, when all appeals are exhausted.)The litigation process necessarily involves choices and decisions made not only by you and your attorney but also those made by the opposing party, the opposing attorney and the Court or Arbitrator.It is therefore impossible to fully control the process or to predict the outcome or the total time and cost involved with 100% accuracy.

  • The litigation process costs money, takes time and can be stressful
  • You and your attorney cannot completely control whether all outstanding issues get settled
  • You may believe that you are willing to settle on terms that are more than fair. That doesn't matter.Settlement takes the agreement of the opposing party, opposing attorney and the Court. Unless everyone agrees to settle all issues then you are going through the litigation process and the litigation process costs money and time and will probably be stressful.
  • If you settle 99% of everything in the case that needs to be resolved
    and cannot resolve the remainder then you are still required to go through the litigation
    process. So, for example, a divorcing couple who agree to settle who gets which property except the spoons still needs to go through the litigation process.
  • You may believe that it is unfair that you have to spend your money protecting property you already own or to protect rights that you are entitled
    to have. That doesn't matter. Unless you settle all outstanding issues then you are going through the litigation process and the litigation process costs
    money and time and will probably be stressful.
  • You may believe that you deserve to have the opposing party pay your attorney's fees and litigation costs. Unless there is a statute providing for an award of attorney's fees and
    costs, an agreement between the parties for such an award or another well-established legal basis then you are required to pay these yourself. Even if such an award is granted it is often
    less than what it actually costs you and sometimes collecting such an award can be difficult.
  • The parties may be better off settling and receiving less than 100% of what each thinks he/she deserves because the litigation process costs money and time, is often stressful and the result cannot be known with 100% certainty.

 

How to cope:

  • The attorney and client should work as a team. The attorney has knowledge, training and experience to proceed through the court or alternative dispute resolution processes; and has legal reasoning and persuasion skills. The client is crucial in gathering and presenting the evidence and in making choices. Together the attorney - client team decides strategy and tactics and strives for the best outcome possible. The attorney-client team also decides together whether, when and how to proceed with settlement.
  • The attorney-client team should stay focused on what's important and what's cost-effective. Just because a certain motion or procedure is possible does not necessarily mean that it is the best course for the client in the particular circumstances. When the attorney and client understand the client's objectives and real needs then they can prioritize available resources as much as practical to focus on what is essential.
  • The attorney-client team should recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each side's case. First the attorney explores relevant facts and law. Then the attorney - client team is better able to predict possible and probable outcomes. The result through a possible settlement can be compared to what would happen if the litigation process takes its course.
  • The attorney-client team should look for practical solutions and win-win results where possible. Often a solution can be found by agreement that is not possible if imposed by a judge or arbitrator. A negotiated settlement is more likely when practical solutions and win-win results are considered.

Dealing with an opposing party who seriously abuses the legal system by being highly litigious, by using hardball tactics, and by employing overly aggressive attorneys:

Some people seriously abuse the legal system by using improper tactics, by filing frivolous, unnecessary, petty or repetitious motions, by refusing common-sense cooperation and courtesy, by making outrageous and unsupportable claims, by refusing to follow court rules and orders, by lying, by intimidating, by bullying or by trying to take unfair advantage. If the opposing party is seriously abusing the legal system then you will be unlikely to persuade the person to do what is fair or reasonable; and the litigation process is likely to be exceptionally expensive, long and difficult.

If faced with an opposing party with a personality disorder, addiction or mental illness then special care must be taken to protect your interests.

However you do not have to abuse the legal system yourself in order to be protected. Ron Steingold has many years of experience dealing with such situations. There are a variety of reasons why the temptation to react in kind should be resisted including:

  • such tactics can backfire
  • such tactics can result in fines, penalties and the award of attorney fees/costs against you
  • such tactics can lead to not being able to present evidence in your case or in the most extreme situations may result in being unable to present your case at all
  • such tactics greatly increase the expense of the case for everyone
  • such tactics greatly increase stress for everyone involved

Some attorneys shy away from such cases.  But Ron Steingold welcomes the opportunity to protect a client against an opposing party or attorney who seriously abuses the legal system.