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Litigation costs are a major part of most in-house legal department budgets. After all, outside counsel aren't cheap and corporate legal disputes can drag on for years and years.
But you can help reduce those costs, and help increase your department's cost-effectiveness, in several ways. Here are three tips on how to bring down your litigation spend, without compromising your legal position.
1. Don't Wait to Bring on Outside Counsel
Bringing in an outside attorney in the early stages of a dispute can help save you money in the long run. Companies should avoid the desire to handle all but the smallest disputes on their own, especially when potential litigation involves complex or unusual issues. Working with outside counsel early on can help you put together a comprehensive legal strategy at the onset of any potential dispute.
Remember, too, to seek out outside attorneys who have significant expertise in the issues at hand. One of the most common reasons outside counsel is fired is because they lack sufficient expertise.
2. Avoid Excessive Depositions and Motions
Many attorneys have a tendency to take as many depositions and file as many motions as possible. Some do it as part of their strategy. For others, it's just their temperament. But the delay that results from excessive motion practice can result in huge legal bills. So, before you bring on outside counsel, discuss the appropriate deposition and motion strategy.
3. Look to Alternative Dispute Resolution
The best way to reduce litigation cost is to prevent litigation in the first place. That means implementing strong policies and procedures to help avoid legal trouble and having effective arbitration provisions in place when trouble does arise.
Even in disputes where arbitration clauses aren't relevant, there can be opportunities to move a dispute into an alternative dispute resolution forum, such as binding arbitration or mediation. Using ADR can speed up the dispute process and significantly reduce your legal costs.
And don't forget about that classic form of alternative dispute resolution: the settlement agreement. In many situations, a quick settlement can halt a lawsuit before legal costs spiral out of control, and with little or no harm to your company's reputation.
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