Lawyers who talk about “hard-fought litigation” just like to listen to the sound of their own voice. Every lawsuit is hard fought; otherwise it would not be in court. In today’s world, pre-litigation proceedings, whether mandated by statute or engaged in voluntarily, settle nearly every dispute that can be resolved out of court. If a judge hears it, it will be a battle.
And a battle in court takes time. It often means exchanges of motions on many topics from venue to what documents are discoverable to what evidence will be admissible. Each motion must be heard by the judge, and this takes time, especially with typically crowded dockets. So the wheels of justice do turn slowly. So slowly sometimes that the U.S. Supreme Court just allowed a lawsuit to go forward this month – it did not decide it, just allowed it to proceed – which was filed in 2010. That is an extreme case but it makes the point.
The lower Courts do not always help. One that shall remain nameless threatened an obstructionist party with sanctions on three separate occasions, but never actually imposed any. (Full disclosure in case one wonders – our firm was not involved in that case; it came from a reported opinion out of state.) This is sure to add to a litigant’s frustration, as the case drags on from obstruction to obstruction and the Courts shy away from bold action to speed things up.
This is relevant to the type of service businesses should expect from their attorney. There are the basics, such as legal know-how, responsiveness, a business mind, and creating value. In litigation, there is also an education component, about how the courts work, the time it might take, and the business value of each case – components we try never to forget.
(And thank you also, by the way, to our readers for their patience during our transition to our new website.)