Business Disputes and Litigation: Don’t Wait for a Crisis

Kevin J. Thornton, Esq.
October 14, 2020

The very best practice is to start your search for a litigation attorney before a crisis erupts. After they are served with a lawsuit, many business owners have made panicked calls to family members, friends, and business colleagues seeking recommendations for a business litigation attorney. The stress inherent in that situation can be reduced by using the simple strategies discussed below. 

Accurately and promptly identifying warning signs that your business partner or a customer has become a potential adversary is critical. Time is of the essence from the instant you sense an issue. Discreetly gather all pertinent paperwork. Disclose your intentions and strategy to no one. Understand that every tidbit of information you share – with anyone – may be unearthed in a deposition or during discovery. 

Every dispute is different, but consider asking your adversary to put all demands and complaints in writing. You may be closer to achieving an amicable solution than you imagine. Even if you are very far apart, written demands and complaints will clarify their position and identify the issues.

Begin your due diligence. Make two copies of all pertinent documents, records and communications, paperwork, including memos, emails and text messages, and preserve your originals as potential evidence. Organize and catalogue each item as though you are a neutral third-party. Prepare a chronology of relevant events. Organized paperwork will reduce legal fees by enabling your attorney to quickly assess and efficiently handle the matter.

Finding the right litigation attorney for your case is vital. Ask attorneys you know for a recommendation – you need someone who understands your industry and business  and who concentrates on litigation. Accountants and other business owners are also excellent sources of referrals. 

Call each recommended litigator as soon as possible for an appointment.  Experienced trial attorneys are often booked weeks in advance. Attorney rates and retainers vary greatly; ask for the hourly rate, retainer amount, and a budget. 

In your meetings, listen actively to assess your comfort with and confidence in each attorney. Prepare a list of everyone involved in the matter. Before an attorney can accept you or your company  as a client, he or she must ensure that they have no current or prior attorney-client relationship with you or anyone involved. Interview as many lawyers as is necessary until you find the right match.

Active collaboration and communication with your business litigation attorney is important. Regularly review the litigation strategy and objectives together. Do not tell anyone that you have hired an attorney or what your goals are. Do not repeat any of your attorney’s communications with you.

Some of my litigation clients could have reduced their headaches and heartaches as well as, time, and money if they had followed the suggestions included herein.  If your  schedule permits, it is a wise practice to start your search for litigation counsel before a crisis erupts. Either way, following the protocols above will help you to more calmly and confidently deal with business litigation.