Written by attorney Michelle A. Perfili

What's Law got to do with it? Surviving litigation and lawyers

If you have ever been "dragged" into a lawsuit or even initiated one and later felt worse for the wear, you are not alone. Although the pursuit of "justice" is a noble one whether you are prosecuting or defending a lawsuit you should consider all aspects of the case and the effect it will have on you and your family. Many say the law and justice are not necessarily constant companions.

Initially, the best advice is to do your homework. If you have been sued, decide if you can "afford" to represent yourself (being "In Propria Persona") or whether you should seek a competent and experienced lawyer. Be conscious of all timelines and consider your personal circumstances when deciding your best course of action.

Litigation can be very costly so choose your advocate carefully and consider a realistic budget should the matter proceed to trial. From the initial filing fee to attorneys fees and costs through the costs of a jury or reporter costs, know what you are getting into and plan accordingly. Consider "alternative dispute resolution" such as Mediation or binding Arbitration. The latter can be a "mini trial" (and hence less time and expense) and cut off post decision machinations (such as an appeal or post trial motions). Consider whether you can afford justice "at all costs" by determining whether there is the possibility of an award of attorneys fees from the losing side or whether you will have to absorb all the fees and costs in your pursuit of vindication.

Consider the financial as well as the time and emotional commitment if you decide to embark and weather the litigation storm. Clearly set out your goals, expectations and readiness to pursue a matter through litigation. Be honest with yourself as well as anyone you trust to either pursue or defend you in a particular case. If you can truly say it is about the "principle" and not the prize, consider an agency that may be able to address the cause of the problem without you embarking on litigation.

Learn from the tribulations of King Pyrrhus, an ancient but important lesson which I have provided a link to a brief synopsis of the moral of his story. To win at ALL costs may be evidence of "victory" but also an indication of poor planning and a resort to emotional rather than logical thinking. If you are pursuing a claim against a defendant, will your judgment be collectible a mere paper trophy of your win? Talk to a professional about an "asset check" or ask your counsel about remedies and the ability to satisfy your judgment.

There are many resources for free, low and no cost evaluation of your options ranging from free consultations to government and Court websites to help you decide when to get in the game and when to get out. The cost of justice may be high but the power of knowledge is priceless.

Good luck and good law.

Additional resources provided by the author

I have linked a synopsis of a "Pyrrhic victory" below. Sometimes the oldest lessons are the best ones. I have also included links to a sample Court Website as well as a few agencies which may help to side step litigation depending on the nature of the dispute and whether you are seeking justice or a judgment.

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