Continuing our current theme of strategy, one of the most important strategic considerations when it comes to litigation is deciding how you want the whole thing to end. It is important not just to consider what you hope to gain out of a dispute but also to consider in what areas you may be willing to compromise. This latter point is especially important when one is dealing with a settlement. When a case has gone to trial, a judge will make the final decision. Strategy at that point has to do with presenting convincing evidence to the judge and making a persuasive legal argument. At a settlement conference you’re dealing instead with the competing interests of the parties and you goal is to find a resolution to the dispute that everyone will agree to.
There is at least two big reasons why, all things equal, you should prefer your case to settle, rather than going to trial. The first is cost. Litigation is an expensive process during discovery and pre-trial motions, but trial prep and the trial itself are considerably more so. It is possible, of course, that you might win legal fees in your judgment, but that is far from guaranteed. The second reason is time. Although the trial itself will hopefully be brief and to the point, it is unlikely that the judge will return a verdict quickly. On the one hand that’s a good thing. You certainly want the judge to be carefully and seriously considering the details of the case. But that does mean the whole process will take longer to resolve. Even once the judge has returned a decision, of course, the matter isn’t necessarily over. Either party (or both) can appeal the decision, a process involving its own submission timetable and a period of waiting for the Appellate Court’s decision. Thereafter there is the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court. Even if the Supreme Court’s only action is to decline to hear the case, still that process takes time to resolve.
In short, so long as the parties can come to some sort of mutual consensus, it is almost certainly in everyone’s best interests to settle.
Fact is, though, in order to get a settlement, you are almost certainly going to have to make some concessions. It’s a compromise first and foremost. It’s a negotiation. And as with any other negotiation, you’re well advised to go in prepared. Both parties stand to gain from avoiding the expense (both in time and money) of a trial. That might be a stronger influence on one party or another. Other involved factors can lead to their own balance or imbalance. It’s therefore vital to have knowledgeable, experienced counsel representing you during any settlement discussion to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Horowitz Law Offices has represented numerous stockholders, shareholders and partners in connection with their disputes and litigation. You are welcome to contact us at (312) 787-5533 or firstname.lastname@example.org