You need an attorney when you face any potential corporate litigation. One of the key considerations is the timing of when you should hire an attorney in your case. Although you should always get legal counsel, there may come a point when your lawyer is at a disadvantage when they come onto your case too late.
To maximize the benefits of a corporate litigation lawyer, you should hire one as soon as possible. A corporate litigation attorney does far more than represent you in the courtroom (if your case even goes that far), and you need the counsel and experience they provide at various points in your dispute.
If you are questioning whether you need a corporate litigation attorney, the best move is to consult with one. The lawyer can review your situation and advise whether you need their help at that stage of your dispute. This is not a determination you should make on your own.
When You Need a Corporate Litigation Lawyer?
If you are involved in any of the following types of disagreements and you do not yet have a lawyer, contact one today:
- Shareholder disputes
- Partnership disputes
- Breach of contract case
- Director lawsuits
- Commercial real estate
- Business torts
- Unfair competition
- Business defamation
You should always have a corporate litigation attorney when you are involved in any business dispute. The stakes of any disagreement are too high not to have the best possible legal help. An adverse outcome to any dispute can have dramatic consequences for your business. There is a reason why lawyers refer to some cases as bet-the-firm litigation. In some instances, there may not be a tomorrow for your business if you lose a case.
Your Conduct During the Dispute Matters, so You Need Advice
How you act during the course of any business dispute may determine whether you can win at trial. Sometimes, you can make a key mistake in communicating or doing business with the other party that can jeopardize your legal rights. For example, if you do not enforce your contractual rights, you may have been deemed to have waived them.
In addition, your time clock to file a lawsuit may begin to run when you should have known of the breach. You will need to use your own due diligence during the process to enforce compliance with a contract. You should have a lawyer helping you at this point.
How Not Having a Lawyer Can Harm Your Case?
When you are on your own and do not yet have an attorney, you may harm your case by:
- Not retaining documents that you need for a lawsuit (and if you destroy documents that another party might request in discovery, you can face serious consequences)
- Discarding evidence that can help you win your case
- Putting something down in writing when communicating with the other side that can damage your case
- Assuming that you are off the record when dealing with the other parties
- Not enforcing your rights under an agreement
- Wrongfully breaching your own contract when you do not have proper grounds for anticipatory repudiation
How Having a Corporate Litigation Lawyer Helps You in the Pre-Litigation Process?
When you hire an attorney early in your potential litigation, they can guide you through the pre-litigation process.
First, your corporate litigation attorney can:
- Review your legal agreement or arrangement with the other party to determine whether you have a sound case or legal defense
- Counsel you on strategic options for your case and the best way to resolve the dispute
- Communicate with the other party or their attorney if they have one (because an attorney cannot communicate directly with a party who has legal representation and must talk to their attorney)
- Prepare you for litigation, including by outlining what documentation you may need to prove your case or to save for discovery
Your Corporate Litigation Lawyer Needs Time to Get up to Speed on Your Case
It is much harder for an attorney to get up to speed when they do not have much time to prepare. There is little time and many things that your lawyer needs to do to help you make the most effective case. Once your attorney files the lawsuit, you will be on the court’s timetable and must follow their deadlines.
At the same time, your lawyer needs time to draft the strongest possible complaint if you will initiate the litigation. The facts you allege in your complaint will be the ones the court evaluates when the defendant has filed a motion to dismiss your case. If your lawyer has to rush to prepare and file your complaint, they cannot always put your best legal foot forward.
When You Act Legally Is an Important Consideration?
The statute of limitations is far from your only consideration when deciding when to file a lawsuit. You may have strategic considerations that dictate when you serve the other party with papers. You may want to be the first party to file, knowing the other party may also consider suing you. It is always better to have the flexibility to file when it is best for you. To have that freedom, you need a lawyer who has been on the case for a while.
Hire an Attorney When You Face Potential Litigation
At the very minimum, you should hire a lawyer when you know there will be litigation. If you are the one who is facing a lawsuit, the case likely did not come out of the blue. Lawsuits usually happen after you have had an existing dispute for some time, and you realize you cannot reach an out-of-court resolution or when the other side begins to lose money.
The other party may already have their own attorney helping to put them in a better position for trial. If you know that the other side hired a lawyer, do the same. You will be at a distinct disadvantage if they have a lawyer and you do not.
If Anyone Served You With Papers, Get a Lawyer
If you do not have a lawyer when you have been served with lawsuit papers, you definitely need one at that point. According to the Rules of Civil Procedure, you have 30 days to file your answer to a complaint. Your answer will respond to the factual contentions made by the other side. You might get an extension from the court, but the judge may not grant your request if they know you dragged your feet on hiring a lawyer.
You Need to Prepare When You Face a Lawsuit
Another reason you need to be ready for a lawsuit (when you know one is coming) is that you can legally file your own counterclaim. Nothing says you can only be the only one facing legal action in a case. You may have your own claims against the other party that you have not yet filed. Your lawyer can file a counterclaim with your answer that functions as your own lawsuit.
Some people have concerns about higher costs when they hire an attorney earlier in the process. However, remember that this is an investment in your case. If you wait to hire a lawyer because you do not want to spend as much money, you might end up in a precarious legal position. Your lawyer’s ability to prepare and help you maneuver is well worth the money. In fact, it can be some of the best money that your business has spent.
Getting a Lawyer Does Not Guarantee a Lawsuit (but It Could Help You Avoid One)
Hiring a corporate litigation lawyer does not automatically mean that you will end up in a lawsuit that goes to a jury. Corporate litigation attorneys can actually help you avoid a lawsuit. In some cases, you do not have to go to court to achieve the best result. Not having to face a lawsuit can be a victory in itself, and it does not necessarily mean that you have to surrender everything in an unbalanced settlement.
Your corporate litigation lawyer can help you avoid lawsuits through creative means. A business dispute does not have to be a zero-sum game. There are solutions where both parties can get some of what they want and end up in better positions than they might have been if they locked themselves into a protracted dispute.
You Might Resolve Your Dispute Outside of Court
Mediation may resolve your dispute. If you are at odds with the other party and cannot seem to work out a solution on your own, you may benefit from the help of a professional who can help you talk and work through the issues. A mediator can help highlight common ground while helping steer you toward a possible agreement.
The mediator does not have any binding power, and they cannot issue any ruling. However, they can facilitate open communication and help head off a lawsuit before it happens. You can even use a mediator once there is already an open court case to help you reach a settlement agreement.
Your corporate litigation attorney can help you resolve your dispute in a more timely and cost-effective manner through arbitration. You can still get a binding ruling that resolves your dispute, but it may not be as expensive and acrimonious as a trial. You may even need to go to arbitration because it is a requirement of your contract with the other party. Courts generally enforce arbitration clauses, if they exist. Arbitration is not fitting for every business dispute, but your attorney will at least consider it.
In the best-case scenario, you have paid an attorney, but you do not go to trial. If that is the case, it is money well spent. In the meantime, you have received the benefit of your lawyer’s knowledge and experience. You have also obtained the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have an experienced professional working on your case.
The alternative is that you face stress and distractions, and you cannot focus on your own business during your dispute. Litigation will drain you less when an attorney keeps track of the deadlines and handles the details.
Most corporate litigation cases will settle without the need for a trial. Even if you have filed a lawsuit, chances are that you will reach a settlement agreement with the other party. Both parties realize that it is better to get some of what they want and not have the risk of a trial. Anything can happen when you go in front of a judge or jury, and you will cede some control of the situation.
A Lawyer Puts You in a Stronger Legal Position for a Settlement
However, the settlement may seem out of reach at the start of the dispute. If you have hired a lawyer at the beginning of the case, they can put you in a better legal position when it comes time to negotiate the settlement.
Often, the terms of the settlement result from the legal positioning your lawyer did throughout the case. The stronger your case, the more leverage you have when it comes to negotiating a settlement agreement. Not hiring a lawyer will cost you valuable time to build your case.
Retaining counsel is something that you may be putting off because you are afraid of what it represents. If you are delaying calling an attorney, you should understand you need one in a corporate dispute. When you know that you need a lawyer and you are taking steps to hire a business litigation attorney in Chicago, you can take the time to find the right lawyer for your case.