Dealing with Litigious Lawyers – Making the Best Out of Bad Disputes
There’s not much that can be worse in business, or in life, than being sued. At least that’s what you thought. Sometimes litigation comes with a bonus twist – an overly litigious lawyer on the other side.
So, what do you do if you are stuck in the worst of all worlds with a litigious and unreasonable attorney on the other side?
We’ll dive into that here soon but first, let’s look at an important part of the game of litigation.
Attorneys and Their Rules
It is likely that your state has adopted rules of ethics for attorneys preventing attorneys from talking to clients on the other side of the matter. This simple rule is designed to prevent litigants from being trapped or harassed by the other lawyer.
Quite simply if the other side has a lawyer, you, as the client, don’t have to talk to them. This usually means most of the litigation is lawyers talking to lawyers.
This is beneficial from the perspective of letting clients not worry about being abused by the other person’s lawyer. But it also tends to lead to a higher bill and it also means if there is an unreasonable lawyer on the other side you may be in for a long ride because all communication generally funnels through them.
Making the Best of the Bad
So, if you get a lawyer on the other side that is dead set on litigation (I’ve had them in my career) it can be a long, and costly, ride.
There are a few strategies that we’ve used with different clients and different times. Here’s an overview of a few that might work based on your circumstances.
- Cut and Run. As a young lawyer, I liked to stand on principle. “We are right, they are wrong.” And I will still do this now with the right client in the right situation. But know that even if you are right the other side can run up a big bill. Sometimes it’s cheaper to settle and pay more than have a lot of time and money in legal bills.
- Negotiate Differently. Sometimes changing your negotiation strategy will help. Bring in a new lawyer on your side and change the dynamic with the other side. Sometimes getting someone with a personality that will cater to the overly litigious will help.
- Prepare for The Long Fight. If you can’t talk sense to the other side, you can start preparing for full litigation – to trial – earlier. This can at least save some money and stress on your end.
Hopefully, you have a good lawyer. If you don’t switch – it is your right. But your lawyer should be advising you on the difficulties of the other side and what they think the realistic chances of a good settlement are.