How Lawyers Cheat and Swindle Their Clients – Chapter 2 – The Alternatives To Lawsuits

by EzekielDiet.com
Posted on Jan 03, 2016

EZ Diet Comment:  This is Chapter 2 of the free eBook below. This is what you need to know if you’re ever sued, or decide to sue someone else. Unless more people recognize this problem and become conscious of the extent to which lawyers and the legal system manipulate the general public, the situation can only deteriorate further.

How Attorneys Cheat and Swindle ClientsCHAPTER TWO

THE ALTERNATIVES TO LAWSUITS

In an ideal world, filing a lawsuit would be the last resort in legal disputes. Unfortunately, as the statistics strongly suggest, America’s society is obsessed with the notion that lawsuits are the best and only option available to those who are or feel wronged by an individual, a company, or the state.

Lawsuits are intended as the last resort to disputes. The court system is even designed, albeit loosely, to acknowledge that. Judges are supposed to attempt mediation before a case is formally brought to trial and lawyers are supposed to serve as problem-solvers and counselors as well as prosecutors.

This all became clear to me late one night while watching the rerun of the 1998 movie A Civil Action, starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall. I’d seen the movie before, however the following quote didn’t mean as much to me the first time as it did after spending several hundred thousand dollars in attorney’s fees.

Travolta’s character, Jan Schlictmann made the following quote:

“The odds of a plaintiff’s lawyer winning in civil court are two to one against. Think about that for a second. Your odds of surviving a game of Russian roulette are better than winning a case at trial. 12 times better. So why does anyone do it? They don’t. They settle. Out of the 780,000 cases, only 12,000 or 1 1/2 percent ever reach a verdict. The whole idea of lawsuits is to settle, to compel the other side to settle. And you do that by spending more money than you should, which forces them to spend more money than they should, and whoever comes to their senses first loses. Trials are a corruption of the entire process and only fools who have something to prove end up ensnared in them. Now when I say prove, I don’t mean about the case, I mean about themselves.”

Hear the quote at 46:00 minutes in the movie A Civil Action

After hearing this it all became very clear to me how my attorney’s had worked the system against me all these years. I could have cut my losses fifty percent or more by trying to mediate settlements as soon as I finished reading the original Plaintiff’s complaint. In every frivolous lawsuit it took two or three years, and between $10,000.00 and $25,000.00 in attorney billable hours to get close to a court date. In every case the judge would order mediation before the case went to trial. In every case I would settle during mediation for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

So let’s take one frivolous case and see how this could have been done quicker and cheaper. The case where I ran up approximately $25,000.00 in billable attorney fees and a settlement to the Plaintiff of $4,000.00 cost me $29,000.00 plus aggravation. Would it have been cheaper to offer an early $10,000.00 settlement or even a $15,000.00 settlement? Do you think your attorney will volunteer this option early in the process? Don’t count on it. This is especially true if your attorney is in a medium to large firm where billable hours spell survival.

Many attorneys are in a “bill or perish” mode all the time. Settlements, mediations, and arbitrations take up less time and require less paperwork; attorneys don’t get the opportunity to overcharge as easily as they do in lawsuits.

This is why large corporations have their own staff of attorneys. They can control cases in the direction of early resolution through settlement, regardless of whether the plaintiff is right or wrong, because the litigation alternative is more expensive.

As I pondered this, it all become quite clear. The merits of a case have nothing to do with anything. It doesn’t matter that they’re wrong and you’re right, or not liable. This is completely irrelevant. Trying to prove you’re innocent to clear your “good name” makes you just another fool feeding a corrupt system.

This all reminded me of a New Testament Bible verse in the Book of Luke. By the way, Luke was a Doctor who had probably seen his share of malpractice claims. Luke 12:58 reads: “For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.”

“For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate…” this process can take years in today’s court system. “On your way there make every effort to settle with him,” we’ve already determined the wisdom of this statement. “So that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.” You may have no control over a corrupt legal system, and the potential outcome could cost you much more than an early settlement. Consider for a moment the profound wisdom in this simple sentence.

Three alternatives to legal action are settlements, mediations, and arbitrations. Anyone with a legal problem should consider these alternatives, as appropriate, before filing a lawsuit. Settlements, mediations, and arbitrations can save you a lot of time, money, and anxiety when you are faced with a legal problem.

Settlements

Before a case is brought to trial, often right before, one or other of the parties involved in the dispute may come forward and offer a settlement. The details of any settlement generally reflect the most likely outcome of the pending trial and are offered as a means of saving parties the time and cost of a court appearance.

A couple of things to keep in mind about settlements:

– You should always consider your position carefully before responding to a settlement offer. Although some attorneys advise clients to accept or decline on the basis of whether the settlement offer is too little or generous in relation to the strength of a case, you should also consider the financial aspects of going to trial. How much are you going to save in legal expenses if you accept the settlement?

– Be wary of lawyers who seem overly eager to settle when an offer is made. If a lawyer pushes you to settle, they are probably interested in protecting themselves from conviction for negligence if they mishandled your case: “A prompt settlement reduces the risk that you will file a grievance with the bar or start a malpractice action”[1].

A settlement agreement has a number of components to it and you should bear in mind that 90% of all civil disputes are settled. Consider the settlement option before you spend large sums of money on litigation.

The following items are generally featured in a standard settlement agreement:

– A concise description of the facts of the dispute.

– A provision stating the considerations being paid. This will include cash as well as any other compensation being made.

– A release that will completely bar either you or [your opposition] from bringing any action relating to the dispute being settled.

– The closing date that is, in effect, an escape from settlement. If for some reason, an unreasonably long delay in complying with the terms of the settlement occurs, both parties will be able to back out of the settlement.

– The settlement agreement should be signed under oath by the parties and before a notary.

– A provision for the way in which the parties will settle disputes over the settlement agreement if one arises. This may be through a court or through arbitration.

– A confidentiality clause may be included.[2]

Mediations

The role of the mediator is to help parties solve problems in a cooperative manner. The mediator facilitates communication, which is often disrupted during legal disputes, and ensures that different angles are appreciated and taken into consideration. Mediation is generally very private and informal, allowing for all emotions to be expressed by the parties in dispute.

Not only is mediation often a very successful process for solving disputes, there are a range of reasons why it is advantageous and recommended in most cases, including that:

– 90% of all civil cases are settled, most immediately before trial. Settling during mediation may avoid both the financial and the emotional investment that is required when you engage in litigation, and

– The American Arbitration Association reported that 85% of the voluntary mediations it participated in nationwide resulted in settlement.

– You [may] have an on-going relationship with the opposing party and want to continue the relationship;

– There [may be] a mutual interest in resolving the dispute quickly’

– Litigating the dispute will be a long and expensive proposition;

– Time [may be] of the essence.

You can obtain more information about mediation and mediators through the American Arbitration Association website (www.adr.org) or through local bar associations.

Arbitrations

The method of resolving disputes known as arbitration has a long history; it was first developed by the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Subsequent use in the English legal system made arbitration a popular method of dispute resolution in the American legal tradition as well.

In modern legal practice, there are three types of arbitration: voluntary, compulsory, and remedial.

The basic process of arbitration has six stages: initiation, preparation, prehearing, conferences, hearing, decision making, and award.

The initiation stage involves the introduction of the arbitrator, the mediator between the two disputing parties. The arbitrator may develop a signed agreement with the two parties, detailing a number of points:

– The nature of the arbitrator’s authority;

– What procedures are to be used during the formal hearing;

– A concise statement about the issue in dispute;

– Information about the amount of money or property that is involved in the case, if any; and

– A brief summary of the relief that is sought by the two parties.

The other five stages of the arbitration process are similar to processes for a trial: the preparation stage involves the collection of evidence, including witness statements and other documentation about the case; the pre-hearing stage offers both sides a chance to formally prepare for the hearing by discussing the matter and administrative elements that will apply during the hearing.

The hearing is run similar to a trial, with witnesses and examinations of evidence pertaining to the case. Arbitration does not involve public hearings, however, and very often even a court reporter is not used to keep a record of the proceedings.

The decision in the case and the award are determined by the arbitrator, who is both the judge and the jury during the arbitration hearing. In most instances, the arbitrator’s decision is final and enforced by the law.

You should consider arbitration in your case for a number of reasons:

– It is less costly and can save you considerable amounts of money in legal fees;

– It does not require the use of legal counsel;

– Resolutions are typically speedy, certainly in comparison to court-based resolutions;

– Hearings are typically less formal than court hearings;

– Arbitrators are also considered to have more experience in the matters they review than judges do, so the chances of a fair outcome in arbitration are often greater than in court-based hearings.

[1] Hershkowitz Singer, S. (2003) Attorney Responsibilities and Client Rights.

[2] Hershkowitz Singer (2003).

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