When you’re being sued or need to sue someone, that’s a big problem. Our experienced legal team has handled hundreds of civil lawsuits for businesses and individuals on a variety of issues.
CPC Law represents clients in a variety of litigation matters. Sometimes, we defend cases brought against our clients. Other times, we file suits for our clients. The cases we handle in court include foreclosures, real estate, contract and commercial disputes, collection actions, evictions and other types of civil matters.
CPC Law recognizes that lawsuits can easily result in a bloodbath of expenses and stress that often lasts years. Our approach to litigation focuses on fighting hard, but within a rational and logical framework of problem-solving to end the battle favorably for our clients without destroying them. We recognize that litigation often takes both a serious economic and emotional toll on our clients.
Our small business clients are the most likely to find themselves in court for commercial litigation. Business dealings put small business owners in so many situations that can lead to disputes that become lawsuits, both on the plaintiff (suing) or defendant (being sued) side. These matters may include contracts, collections, employment, intellectual property, real estate and landlord-tenant matters and others.
Small business-owners can reduce their risks of litigation. By considering all their potential risks and measures to reduce them. It’s far better to prevent a lawsuit than to win one.
The Life of a Lawsuit
Most legal actions start with a warning shot and attempt to resolve before going to court, usually in the form of an attorney’s demand letter. Sometimes, the law requires a pre-suit notice with an opportunity to cure before filing. In most cases, a potential plaintiff will make a pre-suit demand with a chance to settle.
If a pre-suit resolution doesn’t happen, a complaint is filed. The complaint is personally served upon the defendant. In most cases, the defendant will have 20 calendar days to file to respond or risk losing by default.
After services of process, the real fun begins. The defendant files an answer and claims available legal defenses (known as “affirmative defenses”). Usually, the next stage will involve discovery. This is where gamesmanship happens and expenses can pile up, along with much frustration.
Discovery is the process through which the parties collect evidence from each other. This may include documents, business records, emails and virtually anything else a party may possess that’s relevant to the case. Written questions called “interrogatories,” are asked and answered under oath.
Depositions may be taken. This is a trial preview where attorneys take the testimony of witnesses (including non-parties to the case) with a court reporter making a record. Depositions are crucial to a case because they force witnesses to “show their hands” before going to court. The quality of a witness’ performance at a deposition affects settlement negotiations.
Costs skyrocket because discovery is labor-intensive. Court reporters are paid and expensive transcripts are ordered. Attorneys often use evasive tactics and create discovery battles within the larger war of the case, all costing time and money.
The end of a lawsuit may be a trial where a jury or judge decides the case. Relatively speaking, trials are rare. More often, cases are decided by settlement or a judge’s ruling on a motion without a trial.
Typical motions include a motion for summary judgment. This is a filing, supported by sworn testimony including affidavits and deposition testimony, where one party argues that according to the undisputed facts, the law says they should win. A defendant can win a case through a motion to dismiss on various legal grounds.
How Much Will it Cost to Go to Court?
Unless the matter is one an attorney will take on contingency, such as a personal injury case against a defendant covered by insurance, most lawyers will require an hourly retainer arrangement. This involves putting a deposit into the client trust (escrow) account and billing time against that deposit.
If the case is resolved within the deposit, the attorney will return change to the client. If it’s not and more work is needed after depleting the retainer, the attorney will ask the client to “feed the meter.”
For some types of cases, mainly business and commercial disputes, CPC Law will request this traditional hourly retainer deal. Lawyers want this hourly arrangement because of the unpredictability of lawsuits. No one can know the amount of work the other side will create and other uncontrollable factors.
No-win situations can result in litigation, especially in hourly-billable matters. This often comes from the fact that no attorney can control how their opposing attorney will handle the case. For example, if the other side creates a lot of work by filing motions, discovery requests, and forcing court hearings, we have to respond accordingly. This will create more billable hours, which all clients hate.
On the other hand, we can selectively respond to all of our opponents’ efforts or fight back less than we could in an effort to keep down costs. This approach will very likely harm our client’s case, which will cause great strife.
This discussion goes to show how frustrating and unfair litigation can be. Before we sign up any client, we have unpleasant but honest discussions about matters like these to make sure our clients are well-prepared for the fight and we’re a good fit to be their law firm.
CPC Law doesn’t “churn” hourly cases simply to collect fees from our clients. Instead, we counsel our clients on risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis considerations to seek the best possible return on investment in our services.
Depending on the type of case, CPC Law will represent clients under other fee arrangements, including flat fees and contingency or sometimes a “hybrid.” This typically involves a portion of a flat fee advance payment with the balance paid being a percentage of the recovery.
There are matters, mainly cases based on consumer law violations, where our firm will assume the risk to work on the case to collect fees at the end from the other side. It’s risky because we need to win to get paid. If the facts are on our client’s side, it’s often worth the risk and may be the only way the client can get justice and their day in court.
When it’s right for our client, we’ll work hard to prevent a lawsuit from being filed by actively seeking pre-suit settlements through negotiations. We believe that mediation is a valuable tool to settle lawsuits through fair deals for our clients. Mediation may be pre-suit, but usually happens after the case is filed. Mediation is a settlement conference where a neutral mediator works to help both sides reach a settlement to resolve the case.
If you’re being sued, need to sue or face the possibility of going into litigation, call CPC Law to schedule your attorney consultation.