Litigation Services — everything related to litigation, including pre litigation demands, complaints, answers, motions, discovery, trials, and appellate work; both state and federal trial and appellate courts; I also represent clients in mediation and arbitration.
As a New York business attorney, I offer litigation legal services, which involve everything with the courts, and include the New York State courts, and the federal courts located in New York and elsewhere. Clients typically call me when they are involved in a business dispute. This could me, if they are a defendant, when they have been sued, and need to defend the case that was filed against them. If, on the other hand, a lawsuit has not been filed, and the parties are trying to work out their dispute privately and consensually, and without involving an independent third party like a court or arbitrator or mediator, I can also get involved at that stage. Sometimes we can resolve pre litigation disputes, and when we can do that, there is no need for court or other independent third-party involvement and the parties should enter into a settlement agreement or revise their existing agreement (if there is a contract at the heart of the dispute), with the assistance of a New York business attorney or some other qualified attorney.
When negotiations break down or if the parties to the dispute are otherwise unable to resolve the dispute, the dispute escalates, and we need the assistance of a judge (or another independent third party) to resolve it. A lot of parties go straight to litigation. “I am going to sue you.” Sometimes, that is the only path available to dispute resolution, and if you’re the aggrieved (or harmed) party, you want to be made whole. When negotiations deteriorate and it’s time to involve a judge, the parties tend at that time to become rooted in their positions, and irrational, and emotional. It can get pretty bad — friendships destroyed, families ruined, and parties do not feel good about it. Other times, which is rare, but it does happen, the parties just level-headedly say, “Ok, we are not going to agree, everything’s fine, I have my position, you have yours, let’s take our chances and go to court.” When there is that level of mature thinking, or it’s otherwise contractually required, the parties should try mediation, which is a great tool and can save an enormous amount of time and money.
Mediation usually starts out in a room with an independent third-party, normally a former judge or attorney, who has experience in the industry where the dispute arose. Also in the room are the parties and their attorneys, and everyone usually has a chance to speak, tell their side of the story. After that, the parties usually go into their separate rooms with their attorneys, and the mediator bounces back and forth between the rooms and usually conveys offers and counter-offers, and a successful mediation results in a deal, or a settlement. SIDE NOTE: what I just described was non-binding mediation, which means that the parties are free to not agree, and to walk away at any time. SIDE NOTE: there is also binding mediation, which if the parties cannot consensually agree, the mediator imposes a settlement (this is only if the parties agree to binding mediation in the beginning — this cannot be imposed unless agreed beforehand). SIDE NOTE: every mediation does not always start out with the parties voicing their concerns. In fact, one of my mediations, which was abject torture (I will tell you about if we meet), the obstinate and recalcitrant party on the other side refused to attend the opening meeting if anyone could speak. That party just wanted the mediator to speak and then everyone would go into their breakout rooms. There were about 10 people in the room, and it was definitely a power play on their part. We wound up eventually settling, but like I said, the whole experience was torture. A lot of New York business attorneys do not like mediation, but I find it very helpful because if it is successful, it saves money, and time, and resolves the dispute quickly.
If mediation is successful, the dispute is over and the parties typically enter into a settlement agreement. If not, the parties can try mediation again, they can go to court, or they can agree to arbitrate. Now, as a New York business attorney, I have resolved business disputes in court, out of court, through arbitration, and through mediation. I have also resolved business disputes at trial. Arbitration is just like a trial, except that it is confidential and nonpublic, there are relaxed evidentiary rules, and you have to pay for the arbitrator or the panel of arbitrators. On the other hand, court proceedings, are public — the filings and what goes on in the courtroom — there are strict rules of evidence, and you don’t have to pay the judge. There are filing fees, for instance, for commencing a case, and for filing a motion. Currently the fee for filing a case in NY state court is $210, and the motion filing fee is $45. Those are paid directly to the court via the court’s website and court electronic filing system, which is called NYSCEF, and stands for the New York Court Electronic Filing System. As a New York business attorney, I have login credentials that let me file on the NYSCEF system.
A case in New York and in most jurisdictions is commenced by filing what’s called a Summons and a Complaint. New York is what’s called a notice pleading state, meaning that all the Complaint has to do is allege elements of a cause of action (like breach of contract), and the other party, once served, is deemed to be on notice of the claim. (“Cause of action” and “claim” are used interchangeably here.) Once the Summons and Complaint are filed electronically, they need to be served on the defendant. Once served, the defendant has 20 or 30 days (depending how and where served) to file their answer, or file a motion to dismiss, or otherwise respond to the Complaint (for instance, by filing a motion to change venue). The parties request a preliminary conference, set dates for discovery (including document exchanges and depositions), and if material issues of fact remain, and the case is not settled, they go to trial. If there are no genuine issues of material fact, the dispute can be resolved as a matter of law, by a motion for summary judgment. In either case, once a judgment has been entered, it can be appealed, usually within 30 days.
In closing, litigation is a very detailed and nuanced process and if you are not familiar with them, see the advice of an experienced New York business attorney, who can and should help you protect and enforce your rights to the fullest extent possible.