October 31, 2007

When business disputes arise, companies often turn to litigation as their primary method of resolving such disagreements. They do so for good reason: litigation can be a highly effective tool that grabs the other party's attention and follows a familiar, time-tested process. Litigation is particularly useful in high-stakes disputes that strike at the very heart of a company's business model.

However, litigation can sometimes take on a life of its own. Emotions may run high, and the parties involved may shift their focus toward determining who is right and who is wrong—and away from getting at what is in the best, long-term interests of their companies. Litigation can also divert attention and significant human and financial resources from the primary task of running a business.

In many cases, a negotiated resolution may be a better option. A settlement, in one form or another, can stop the outflow of resources and allow the company to refocus on its core competencies. It can even turn an opponent into a business ally.

At Much Shelist, we often take a parallel approach to dispute resolution. On one track, our litigators work closely with the client to better understand the business issues involved in the dispute, and to present the available options. If litigation is deemed the most appropriate course of action, our team takes maximum advantage of the many tools at their disposal to achieve the client's objectives.

On a second track, a senior transactional attorney is assigned to conduct a periodic review of the matter. The focus of the review is the business itself, exploring the effects of litigation on the company and its operations, identifying windows of opportunity for an out-of-court resolution and—in some cases—confirming that litigation remains the best option.

It is important to note that these two tracks are never in conflict, nor are our litigators and our transactional attorneys. Rather, they work in tandem to ensure the best outcome for the client while protecting the company's interests—now and in the long run.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.