Lawyers should be slow to sue, eager to conciliate

I have heard it said that military men who have been in combat are among the very most reluctant people to send troops into combat.   

These combat-hardened military leaders have experienced the horrors of war and know the gravity of the decision that will surely imperil others’ lives.  Attorneys should operate in the same fashion.  Litigation is:

costly, time-consuming, and it taxes the resources of all parties.  

If the litigation involves individuals rather than businesses, it can be particularly emotional and gut-wrenchingly painful.  Even when businesses are battling it out in court the net result is often a loss for both businesses.  Both sides pay a boatload of attorney fees and then end up splitting the baby with a settlement.

Although it might seem easy for an attorney to encourage settlement, it is much tougher than you might imagine in practice.  Settlement or even settlement discussion is often viewed as a sign of weakness or timidity.  I recently worked with a client who chose the status quo and some uncertainty over filing a lawsuit.  The reasons? the costs are too high and the favorable outcome simply isn’t motivating enough to act.

It is easy to work up a client into a frenzy with all the potential legal claims you can pursue, it’s much tougher for attorneys (including me) to separate some of the emotion to allow consideration of non-litigation alternatives.



Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."

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