Litigation: Not the Only Answer

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser — in fees, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln

The above quote by Abraham Lincoln makes me think of how we lawyers sometimes lose sight of the fact that winning in litigation  (as opposed to reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to a dispute) may not always be the best outcome for the client.  While there are certainly advantages to being definitively declared a winner by the Court, winning can indeed be a hollow victory after years of litigation and appeals, hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and costs, thousands of man hours spent, and burnt bridges.   Sometimes it just makes more sense on a business and/or personal level to find an alternative resolution to a dispute – especially if there is an ongoing relationship between the parties or if the client’s time is better spent on cultivating or developing its business.

Sometimes, the best decision is to fight until the bitter end.  Either way, it is important to make an informed decision as to which avenue to take and to explore all of one’s options and goals before embarking on a particular path.  Luckily, it’s never too late in the litigation process to explore creative and amicable solutions to disputes.  We’ll discuss this issue further in future blog posts.