Question

How Can I Avoid Litigation In My California Business, And What Do I Do When I’ve Been Sued?

View Profile

Answer

As a California business owner, whether you run a large business or a small “mom-and-pop” establishment, disputes are inevitable. Disputes can happen with vendors, with customers, with competitors, with governmental agencies and, frequently, internally amongst business partners. They are a reality in any relationship, but when it comes to a business dispute, it’s important to handle them right and address any issues directly.

The best outcome in any dispute is being able to resolve the matter without involving a legal process. However, that isn’t always possible.

Sometimes a business dispute can’t be resolved easily and becomes a legal matter. This isn’t automatically a terrible result on its own. Business litigation can be an effective way to put an end to an outstanding problem, but only if you maintain a healthy view on your goals and expectations. Otherwise it can be messy, expensive, time-consuming and at times disastrous. 

To help make sure that doesn’t happen, it’s important to have a trusting and positive relationship with a fine business litigation attorney.

How to protect yourself from litigation

Be careful to document communications you have. Keep good records that you can easily access, such as a “notes” section of contracts or electronic records that you can update regarding customers/clients and vendors. Be fair with the other party, and try to avoid drawing lines in the sand. Review and update contracts and business forms frequently to make sure they capture the current state of your business interactions.

With business partners, try to see the point of view from every chair of the conference table – consider what each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, insecurities and motivations are. Understand it from their perspective, and you might find that a dispute you thought was unfair to you can be reasonably seen from another side.

What to do if litigation seems certain

Having said all of this, when a dispute appears to be headed toward litigation, you must do all of these things:

  • Hire a lawyer you trust to be available and get things done; don’t try to represent yourself.
  • Document, document, document. Having good, written documentation will help prove your case. Bring that documentation with you when you meet with your attorney.
  • Avoid using text messages to communicate issues that may end up in litigation. 
  • Consider who would be witnesses for you in the litigation and discuss that with your lawyer.
  • Do not get emotional or desperate – desperate people do desperate things. 
  • Do not make concessions or take extreme (or really any) positions without discussing them with your attorney. 
  • Be forthright and truthful with your attorney, even if it means admitting things that don’t paint you in the best light.

What if I’m already facing litigation?

If you are in litigation already, consider that it is a process that is more like a marathon than a sprint. Every case is different, particularly in business litigation. Every case has a strategy, like a war, and there are skirmishes that are not as important as others. As a former Army Officer, I can tell you that it is a constant balancing act to focus on the war, while also having a detailed approach to each part of that war on a day-to-day basis.

In finding an attorney to assist you, be careful of an attorney who over-promises terrific results, who overuses legal jargon or who spends too much time bragging about his/her résumé. Try to find an attorney who explains your options in plain language, who is strategic and who listens to you before just talking about what he or she will do for you. Also, look for a lawyer with experience both in resolving cases through mediation and in trying cases before a judge or jury, in the event it is necessary to do so.

The Coopersmith Law Firm in California has that experience and the skill set to help you through this difficult time in your business. Our legal team will give you cost-effective litigation advice, and we offer the quality of a large firm with the care and attention a boutique business litigation firm can provide. Let us guide you through rough waters and toward a positive result.

Answered 08/23/2017

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

Other Answers By This Lawyer

Business Litigation

What Can I Do If I Have A Dispute About The Purchase Or Sale Of A California Business?

Disputes arising from the purchase or sale of a business are common, but can often be resolved quickly with the guidance of dependable legal …

Answered by: Steve Coopersmith, 3 months ago

Other Answers About Business Litigation

Business Litigation

What Can I Do If I Have A Dispute About The Purchase Or Sale Of A California Business?

Disputes arising from the purchase or sale of a business are common, but can often be resolved quickly with the guidance of dependable legal …

Answered by: Steve Coopersmith, 3 months ago

Business Litigation

What Duties and Responsibilities Do Shareholders Owe in Minnesota Closely Held Companies?

What is a closely held corporation under Minnesota law? A closely held corporation under Minnesota law is defined as a corporation with 35 or fewer …

Answered by: Bryan R. Battina, 1 year ago

Business Litigation

I just received a letter from a lawyer who told me that her client is considering suing my company in Virginia and that I must put a “litigation hold” on our records. What does that mean?

If you receive notice that you or your company may have evidence that might be relevant in a lawsuit against you, you must take reasonable steps to …

Answered by: Mark E. Sharp, 2 years ago

Disclaimer:

If you send a lawyer or law firm email through this service, your email will not create an attorney-client relationship and will not necessarily be treated as privileged or confidential. You should not send sensitive or confidential information via this email service. The lawyer or law firm to whom you are writing may not choose to accept you as a client. Moreover, as the Internet is not necessarily a secure environment it is possible that your email sent via the Internet might be intercepted and read by third parties. Super Lawyers will not retain a copy of this message.

Page Generated: 0.25331687927246 sec