Whether you are the person bringing the claim or the one being sued, lawsuits are intense, stressful and high stakes. Here are five tips for surviving and effectively navigating the litigation process:
1. Find the right team – and trust them. Finding your team should include researching and choosing the right attorney, with the right expertise and experience. Once you have the right legal counsel behind you, things should fall into place. If you’re still not sleeping at night after hiring counsel, that’s a red flag; trust your gut and keep looking for counsel who makes you comfortable. But the right team is more than just your legal counsel. Do you have insurance? If so, talk to your agent and make a claim – even if coverage is questionable. Do you have key executives or witnesses you need to rely on in collecting information and assisting with the case? If so, talk with your attorney about how, when and whether to include them in the case and case strategy. And once you have the right team in place, trust them. You can only control so much in litigation, so it’s important that you’re able trust your team. Also keep in mind that they should be making things easier—not harder. If you seem to be in a constant battle with your counsel, don’t be afraid to reassess your team.
2. Roll with the punches. Litigation can be unpredictable, and you or your adversary may get small victories as the case continues. But put that aside. Don’t lose perspective on the small wins and don’t let the small losses get to you. Instead, stay focused on the end result. There are highs and lows in even the most successful cases. You and your attorney should have a game plan in place and establish clear goals for what can and needs to be accomplished in the case. More importantly, your attorney should be able to explain the plan while confirming and reassessing your goals as litigation continues.
3. Remember: litigation is a marathon, not a sprint. Although there are always exceptions, lawsuits can take years to resolve. In that time, there will be lulls where nothing needs to be done, while other times, there will be a flurry of activity, with tight deadlines. During the busy times, remember that it’s not forever. On the other hand, remember to be patient during the slow times. Regardless of whether it’s the initial stages of litigation or the night before trial, you should be able to rely on your attorney to remind you of where you are, where you’re going and, most importantly, what you are trying to accomplish in the case.
4. Take care of yourself. “Self-care” is a hot buzzword. But it also applies when you’re in the midst of litigation. Even in cases that are “just about money,” litigation is stressful. Take the time and space to take care of yourself, because you need to be mentally strong to achieve your goals. Whatever “self-care” means to you, work it into your routine.
5. Learn from the experience. All litigation involves conflict and controversy. After the litigation has been resolved (whether through a trial or settlement) you have an opportunity to learn from the experience—and can implement strategies or processes that can help you avoid a lawsuit in the future. Good legal counsel should be able to suggest measures that can help you prevent another lawsuit.
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