Business litigation is a term that sounds scary. After all, one of the great fears anyone has when running a business is that their interests might be exposed to legal trouble after they've put in years of work. Whether you're worried about being a defendant or a plaintiff in a case, it can be a little worrying to think about hiring a business litigation lawyer, but it doesn't have to be.
One question that people often have for attorneys when thinking about legal actions or defenses is: "What is gained from business litigation?" Here are three things to think about as you prepare.
Access to Evidence
Ask any lawyer what they hope to accomplish through a lawsuit, and there's a good chance that it's finding something compelling during the discovery process. This is when the court orders both sides to turn over documents, emails, receipts, call logs, and other types of evidence that can form the backbone of a case. You have to produce these items whether they help your case or the other side's, and the other side has the same duty.
Collecting sworn testimony from witnesses before trial is another useful part of business litigation. Depositions are open-ended sessions where one side's lawyers ask all the questions they want. The opposing counsel can register objections but that's all they can do. If there are concerns about the admissibility of the testimony, those can't be addressed until preliminary hearings because there isn't a judge present during a deposition. Only a court reporter sits in to take the testimony down.
Depositions are useful because people don't typically risk lying under oath. If you haven't been able to get a straight answer, this is when the truth will come out.
A Push in the Right Direction
If the prospect of having to turn over your documents scares the heck out of you, then congratulations, you're halfway to figuring out what you're going to do next. No business litigation lawyer worth their salt is going to unnecessarily march a client into a massacre. If your documents are so bad you don't want them to see the light of day, then it's time to settle.
On the flip side, remember that the other side suffers the same potential fear. Nothing gives litigation a good push in the right direction like finding something compelling in discovery. Discovery can be invaluable if there are questions about facts like when a contracted shipper, for example, knew there was a problem with a shipment. Speak to a business litigation lawyer to learn more about discovery and other areas of the litigation process.