Let's face it, we live in a litigious society. When legal problems arise, we instinctively gravitate towards filing a lawsuit against another party. If filing a lawsuit can resolve a legal dispute, then it should be initiated as a last resort after exhausting all other available remedies.
Negotiations behind the scenes
Someone coined the popular phrase "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." If an inventor could package a legal prevention tool and sell it at Walmart or Ebay, most attorneys would be out of work, court cases would decline, and state courts would have more money in their budget. The reality is many disputes can be resolved "behind the scenes" without the involvement of attorneys. When a problem arises, people can leverage their connections with friends, family, co-workers, politicians, employers, and other like minded people to seek a solution and save face. This is practiced frequently in the foreign policy of many nations around the world, when backroom deals are made to avoid public humiliation and political embarrassment. In other cultures, such as in Asia, most problems are resolved in this "face saving" manner. Unfortunately, our society does not practice the notion of Altruism. It is a tradition in many cultures that has been lost in western society.
Mediation is NOT Litigation
A very experienced former prosecutor acting as a civil mediator once said, "If you can settle a dispute through mediation, it is considered a victory as if you had won in court." Why is this so? Simply because a jury verdict in your favor is not always a probable or assured outcome. It is largely a gamble through a hard fought battle of wits between attorneys in discovery. After expending hundreds of thousands of dollars for several years in depositions, expert witnesses, and other law and motions, to eventually reach the whole nine yards is considered a great achievement in manpower and financial resources, yet the rewards may be insignificant. Mediation reduces the enormous costs to time, money, and quality of life at the earliest possible point in a legal dispute. As a matter of convenience and economics, mediation can bring all parties to the table in a civilized manner to resolve differences in less time than it would cost to file a lawsuit and litigate for one month.
See you in Court!
When all else fails to resolve a legal dispute behind the scenes or through mediation, there is no alternative but to litigate. Whenever a party is being unreasonable, demanding, vindictive, greedy, egotistical, hostile, and otherwise not amenable to resolution in any fashion, there is no alternative but to litigate. Litigation is war. Either you fight to win or you lose trying. It is a battle waged in the hearts, minds, and bank accounts of the Plaintiff(s) and Defendant(s). Many litigants endure a roller coaster of emotions and financial headaches that have ended marriages, friendships, businesses, and other private, public, and financial relationships. The winning party is not always victorious, as the losing party can resort to bankruptcy protection as an escape route. Before undertaking an adventure in the American court system, be sure to understand 4 important points: 1) Find a good lawyer; 2) Reserve enough money; 3) Listen to advice; and 4) Trust your instincts.