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Avoid Litigation If You Can

Sometimes litigation is necessary, but I really feel it should be a last resort most of the time. The cost, time, hassle and stress is tremendous, and there is never a guarantee of results.

Below our law clerk John Ellis sets for his “Top 8 Reasons Not to Litigate”.

1. Litigation is time-consuming and expensive.
Litigation generally is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. People always should treat litigation as a last resort. Sometimes, there is no other alternative, but this is not invariably the case. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, often can save people time, money, and relationships.

2. The outcome of litigation is uncertain.
One of the constants of litigation is that the outcome of litigation is uncertain; indeed, no competent lawyer can “guaranty” that they will win a case.

3. One-half of all litigants eventually must “lose.”
People considering litigation usually believe (rightly or wrongly) that they have “a good case”; however, litigation is an adversary process, and almost by definition, one side eventually must “lose.” So, at the end of the day, it would appear that one-half of all litigants are “wrong,” because they did not really have “a good case” after all.

4. Litigation is not always cost-effective.
It does not make sense to pay $100,000 in attorney’s fees for a chance to make $10,000. Consequently, even though people generally believe they’re “right,” it is often far better financially for people just to settle rather than to litigate.

5. Litigation should be for the right reason.
Sometimes, people litigate to protect important principles or to establish precedent; however, for any business person, the only valid reason to engage in litigation is business itself. Thus, business considerations always should govern litigation decisions.

6. Litigation sometimes can be a pyrrhic victory.
Even if a plaintiff eventually is successful in winning a judgment against a defendant, the plaintiff still must collect the judgment from the defendant. Not infrequently, it turns out that a defendant has no assets, in which case the judgment is worthless.

7. Litigation can open your life to unwanted scrutiny.
For example, if you include a claim for emotional distress in your lawsuit (you don’t have to, but you may not get as much money if you don’t), then many courts will require you to disclose your medical and psychiatric records dating back ten years or so. Most people are not eager to share this kind of personal information with “the other team.”

8. The court generally doesn’t have time to listen to your life story.
Most people believe (erroneously) that when they get their “day in court,” the judge will listen to every aspect of their emotional case; will right all of the perceived wrongs committed by the other party; and will put the other party in their place. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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