Being prepared is a tricky business. Some might say that effort spent before it's necessary is effort wasted - particularly when the actual event being addressed is not a foregone conclusion. Yet, in some instances, being prepared for something you weren't even sure was going to happen can mean the difference between success and failure. In the matter of the business lawsuit - preparation is key.
First and foremost it's important to accept that the time to prepare for a business lawsuit is before the suit is filed. Most business litigation attorneys will charge by the hour. So the presentation of applicable materials in an organized manner will allow your legal representation to handle your case in the most cost effective way possible. You can also assist your business attorney by keeping careful records. If you aren't sure where to start, consider these suggestions:
- Keep an Up to Date Detailed Calendar: An accurate calendar of what you do and where you go is more important than you realize when you become involved in a business lawsuit. A well documented calendar can serve as proof of where you have been and where you have not been. For example, a detailed calendar could prove how much work was completed and at what time it was performed. A detailed calendar will include who you were with, what you were doing, when it happened, and where you were. These details are invaluable and in many cases, you may have no idea at the time that they will ever be important. In fraud actions, a detailed calendar can also be used to prove what the plaintiff knew and when they knew it. Many cases depend entirely on specific information and proving exactly when the information was provided by one party to the other. Other cases will depend upon the calendar to prove where you were not. For instance, if you have proof of where you were at a certain date and time that would prevent you from being present at a different meeting where information crucial to the case was being discussed/provided. This type of record can be kept in writing or in a digital version on your computer or smartphone. Just make sure that it isn't easy to lose or destroy.
- Keep Notes of Conversations: Note takers are very popular among judges and jurors. Being a note taker gives the initial impression that you are honest, reliable and thorough. A witness that states that they remember exactly what was said 3 years ago at a meeting on a Tuesday morning in April is regarded suspiciously on the stand. Whereas the witness that has a document with notes of the said meeting at what was discussed will be considered as far more reliable. Good notes of conversations will include: an overview of the subject under discussion, who was involved, any risks or concerns that were noted, and whether or not those conversing agree or disagree. Most lawsuits are based on disclosures, promises, understandings, representations, etc. A good note can be all you need to remind you of the correct details and show the judge and jury what was under discussion and who was discussing it - this will often go a long way towards bolstering your argument with the court.
- Hang On to Superseded Documents and Old/Unused Drafts: In many cases the "intention of the parties" involved will come up during the proceedings. This can be made clear in some cases by pointing out what was deleted or added from documents related to the case. Some may find keeping old versions or unused versions of documents annoying and pointless, but it's absolutely worth it when that vital piece of information is available to support your argument in court.
- Prepare a Chronology for Your Lawyer: Draft a chronological timeline/summary of events for your attorney before you ever meet with him. Include a summary of those involved and who they are, explanation of important documents related to the case, time/dates/summaries of meetings and events related to the case, etc. In attempting to put this together, you'll notice just how helpful your detailed record keeping is. This type of preparation is the easiest way to bring your attorney up to speed and prepared to jump into the case.
These simple suggestions can make a big difference when you end up in court. Whether you are being sued or you are suing someone, the experienced southern California business attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP can assist you with your business litigation. Get in touch with any concerns or for more information.