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Preparing for business litigation

Dealing with a business dispute can drain you of energy, time and valuable resources. If a client or employee has breached the terms of a contract, you can't get a customer to pay, or another business is violating your intellectual property, you know what it will cost to pursue your rights. However, you certainly can't afford to let the matter go.

You likely tried to resolve the matter without involving the courts, but if the other party's actions jeopardize the finances, security or reputation of your business, you may have no choice but to fight. Deciding to file a lawsuit means committing to the process while doing whatever you can to protect your company from the harm litigation may cause.

The preparation process

If your company does not have a legal department, you may feel you are out of your element in preparing a lawsuit. Since there is much at stake, you would be wise to seek legal counsel about the most appropriate steps to take to improve the chances of success. Those steps may include any of the following:

  • Establish a team of employees who will take on specific tasks related to the lawsuit.
  • Inform your attorney which team member to contact for specific information.
  • Begin the critical phase of document gathering.
  • Organize your documentation and keep records of where you found each type of document.
  • Seek assistance from your technical specialists for gathering computer data and emails, and document the process in the event the specialists must testify.
  • Contact potential expert witnesses as early as possible in the process.
  • Practice with your employees who will participate in deposition even though they may be reluctant to spend time preparing.

It will be important to keep your finger on the pulse of the lawsuit by periodically re-evaluating its purpose and progress. Throughout your preparation, you may realize it is better to reach out one more time for an out-of-court resolution with your opponent. On the other hand, you may decide to change the tone of the fight and double down your efforts. You will want to work with an attorney who is equally comfortable at the negotiating table and in the courtroom.

When it's all over

A lawsuit may last for months or longer. At the end of it, you may have some tough decisions to make. You may want to meet with your team and perhaps your attorney to discuss ways to avoid future situations that may lead to litigation. This may mean reviewing your contract language, revising your company handbook or changing your debt collection process. A Florida attorney with experience in all areas of business law can be an invaluable resource.

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