What Should Your Client Be Doing In A Business Lawsuit?
During a business lawsuit, first and foremost, my clients should be cooperating and communicating with me and following my office’s instructions. That’s what I am hired to do; to guide them through the process. Usually that involves turning over the files to the attorney to review, having your attorney interview important witnesses, review important documents and so forth.
The client’s role is also obviously very important. The client knows the most about the dispute. One of the most important things they can do, and the biggest thing that I ask my clients to adhere to, is to be rigorously honest. In situations where there are things they have done that may have hurt their case, I can do more to help them if I know about those bad aspects of the case, earlier.
If they did things that maybe they wish they hadn’t in the dispute, or said things or wrote things, I want to know about those “mistakes” because sooner than later, those facts are going to come out. If I learn these facts later in the case, my options on how to advise and assist my client are much more limited. So, there is a large element of trust there with your attorney. You can obviously tell your attorney things in confidence. That is the whole purpose of the attorney client privilege, which means that verbal and written communications, with few exceptions, are considered confidential, and the other parties in a dispute cannot ask you what you discussed with your attorney. That is not allowed as the whole reason why we have the attorney client privilege is to facilitate truthful and totally honest communication between an attorney and a client.
There are going to be many facts clients will have to disclose in a lawsuit. It will be through the disclosure of documents, or through a pre-trial statement (a deposition) taken as that often happens in litigation. A client will be under the obligation to tell the truth, just like in court. However, if they discuss it with me ahead of time, we can usually talk about the best way to be prepared to answer those questions. If I hear about something for the first time when a client is in a deposition and the deposing attorney knows a lot more about it than I did simply because my client didn’t want to tell me (as he or she thought it would be bad for the case), that hurts me in being able to assist them. It’s an adage, but it really applies in this case. Honesty is the best policy and that’s what I would encourage the client to do; cooperate and to make themselves available for the time necessary and make the resources of their business available to me if I need to talk to other people in their business and so forth.
How Is My Attorney Typically Compensated in Business Litigation?
Usually in most types of business disputes I charge for my time or for any of my assistants working on the case in what’s called an hourly arrangement or a time-based arrangement, meaning the more time we ask you to spend on a matter, the more we are going to ask you to pay us by the hour. That’s why if you suspect you will be sued, you should contact an attorney beforehand. If there is going to be a dispute we evaluate that dispute. Sometimes we have bad news for our client in the sense that perhaps they do owe the person that money or maybe they owe them but not as much as they allege.
It’s less expensive in attorney’s fees for the client, if we can get all facts out on the table. We can do an honest and thorough evaluation of the merits of whatever the dispute is, in whatever fashion. Conversely, if someone thinks that another business owes them money and we evaluate it and don’t necessarily agree with everything that our old client is saying, it’s still better to be upfront. Experience has taught me that it’s far better to get those cards on the table so to speak, to be upfront, to have that communication going initially because ultimately that is going to benefit us. That’s another reason why people opt for some of these other types of remedies such as mediation and arbitration. Generally, they are less expensive in terms of attorney time than going to court because they can be resolved faster and easier, and less formally than the entire court process.
The courts require disclosure of all pertinent facts. It is also what is called discovery, which includes things like the depositions and includes answering and propounding written questions or interrogatories. The more of that process there is, the more the attorneys and my staff have to spend on things and that adds to the expense and the complexity of the matter. Therefore, our fee arrangement is basically hourly, or time based and we will, in the first consultation with the client, typically discuss that. Additionally, we come up with a strategy to most effectively utilize whatever money they have to invest in the process—and do it in a way that is most beneficial to our clients.
For more information on Steps Clients Should Take in a Business Lawsuit, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (303) 870-8492 today.
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