In today’s competitive business climate, litigation has become an increasingly common, and often necessary, tool for businesses to protect and defend their interests. It is perhaps unfortunate, but it’s often a mark of success for a business to be involved in litigation because it means it has established itself well enough to attract the interest (or ire) of individuals and/or competitors in the marketplace. As a result, it behooves businesses to understand the full purview of their potential legal needs, and to recognize that the goals in business litigation often differ substantially from the goals in business transactions. Therefore, litigation must be handled differently, and not just because a court is involved. This series will address several common myths about litigation that persist in the business world, which we hope will help you avoid unrealistic expectations and frustration with both the courts and your lawyer.
Myth #1: When in doubt, respond aggressively. Everyone has seen TV shows or movies portraying lawyers as sharks who attack and devour the other side to gain every conceivable advantage, often at the expense of morals, ethics or fair play. While I hope it goes without saying that these portrayals are exaggerations (or outright fabrications) for dramatic effect, many lay people nevertheless believe this is the best type of lawyer to have when faced with a lawsuit. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to popular belief, a lawyer who is combative, aggressive, and unnecessarily litigious often ends up costing his clients far more over the course of the dispute, often for little or no benefit. (After all, it takes a great deal of time and effort to fight everything, which will no doubt be reflected in the bill.) But judges with busy dockets have little patience for such lawyers and may go so far as to impose monetary sanctions against them, and even their clients. Besides, grandiose posturing, trumped-up claims, and underhanded tactics rarely make the machinery of the court system move any faster. Such tactics may delay a trial on the merits, alienate both the judge and your adversary, and make the possibility of a reasonable resolution—often the best outcome for all parties—far less likely. Instead of a shark, you should hire a lawyer who understands the nuances of litigation, picks appropriate battles, and wages them both capably and professionally.
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