I’m lucky to be busy – so I get to tell potential clients what I really think of their cases. And what litigation is really like. Some hire me anyhow.
For what it’s worth, here are some of my most worn out lines:
It’s Not What You Think
My Three Rules of Litigation
- It costs too much
- It takes too long
- You never really get what you think you deserve
Most litigation starts with a bang and ends with a whimper.
If you decide to go forward, you will spend a ton of money. Odds are someday we will be in a room, you will be tired of paying lawyer fees and you will have lost the enthusiasm for “winning” that animates you now. I will encourage (but not pressure) you to accept a settlement that is less than what you think is fair.
Calculate the emotional cost – project out and think: If you can let it go now – how much is that worth in maybe dollars later?
Buying and Selling Risk
Almost all probate litigation occurs in greyness. Except for very few cases, nobody is really all good and nobody is really all bad. It’s just a matter of who tells the story better.
Through discovery, each party looks for ammunition to use if a trial were to occur. Each party can see the ammo the other side is accumulating. Then it gets to a point where each party has a reasonable idea about what their risk would be if they go to trial. At that point, do the math. Risk of losing multiplied by what you would get on your best day in court = what you pay to make it go away.
I am a lawyer. It’s about money. If you can reasonably project that you will end up with more money than you pay me, ok. But if you want to pay someone to fight for the “principle” of it, go elsewhere. After you spend enough money, you’ll change your mind and I don’t want to be there when that happens.
Other Miscellaneous Pointers
It costs as much to litigate over a thousand dollars as it does a million. Maybe not completely true, but it’s close.
Outspending the other side is a legitimate strategy. If you can’t hang, better to factor that in now.
Two reasonable lawyers with client control can settle cases. Whether the other side is going to be reasonable or whether the lawyer(s) on the other side effectively manage their client’s expectations, will have a lot to do with what this case will cost you. But I don’t control the other side.
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