Culture of Litigation

Recently, a friend extended great hospitality in Moscow that included examples of Russian culture. In thanking him, I proposed to share classic examples of American culture. He replied that a memorable example of American culture would be American litigation. His comment was very amusing, wise and true. Litigation is indeed a reality of American culture but it is costly in every sense. No country has as much litigation – only the United Kingdom and a few other countries can even be compared – and , as an example of the differences, America has 17 times more lawyers per capita than Japan. Some proceedings – especially disputes with the government such as  criminal or immigration matters – are hard to avoid.  But lawsuits over money can often be minimized through out of court settlements –  usually, the sooner the better. One of the most important tools for this is mediation, which is a voluntary process- directed by a neutral peace-maker-  to try to get the parties to agree to their own settlement. Unlike arbitration, which is like an out-of-court trial that is binding, mediation seeks an out-of- court  settlement process which is entirely voluntary. Very importantly,  everything said during a mediation is maintained in strictest confidentiality so each side’s comments cannot be repeated at a later time. If the parties do not agree, they can always go back to court to allow a judge or jury to decide what will happen. Although mediations often take place after many months of litigation, parties should consider in appropriate cases trying to conduct a mediation early, before so much money and time is consumed. In some cases, we have held successful mediations before a lawsuit is even filed which, if successful, saves an enormous amount of costs. At times, there is not enough information available to determine what would be a fair settlement and so mediation at the beginning may not always be desirable. But when a case can be settled through mediation, especially early during the process, the many costs of litigation can be avoided, costs which include not only losing money but losing so much of the time and positive energy of all the individuals concerned. While we may always have a culture of litigation in America, hopefully resolving disputes less expensively and faster through processes like mediation will become one of the biggest parts of that culture. Related posts: International Arbitration in South...

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The Depiction Of Lawyers in Media

We’ve all seen television dramas and movies that include lawyers and depictions of courtrooms and legal cases. You might not be surprised to learn that these depictions are not 100% accurate. However, the degree to which that these shows and movies stretch the truth could certainly leave you feeling shocked! Look no further than this Cracked article for the multitude of examples of lawyers actually doing a bad job of, you know, being a lawyer in cinema. Similarly, this article laments the bad rap lawyers tend to receive because of how they are portrayed in the media. Both the misconceptions about how the job of a lawyer is performed and how lawyers tend to act as professionals and as people contribute to a skewed perception of the entire field in the minds of many moviegoers. It Wasn’t Always Like This There have been movies about lawyers for a long time, as the notion of a story about a character that effectively has the power to give and take away someone’s freedom is quite attractive to a storyteller. Add to that the sometimes dramatic and interesting subject matter of legal cases, and an entire film genre is born. However, as Christopher Snead from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville argues in his paper The Downward Spiral: A Look at the Depiction of Layers in Movies, starting in the 1970s there was a tonal shift in how lawyers were represented in film. In the 50s and 60s, he argues, lawyers were depicted in a positive light as decent people and competent professionals, a trend that would die in the 70s and never get better. Why All The Misconceptions? These misconceptions are born from an unfortunate dichotomy: cinema and movies are supposed to be entertaining (constantly so, even), while the legal system is largely anything but. In the realm of cinema, anything that gets in the way of telling a good story is thought of as the enemy. Therefore, it is no surprise that many of these films are very loosely based on real situations and are then injected with interesting plot twists and interesting character traits that make sense in a fiction universe, but not in real life. Why Happens When You Depict Real Law? Ironically, there have been a few pieces of media in recent years that have achieved massive levels of success despite the fact that they depict entirely real legal cases. For example, Netflix’s documentary series Making a Murderer and the Serial podcast have both been wildly successful and, for the most part, faithfully depict how the legal system actually works because they are nonfiction. Why is this the case? Our hypothesis is that the medium these stories take place in (a series of podcasts or a documentary mini-series) are a better fit for the lengthy yarn that is woven every time a legal battle begins. Movies are naturally limited in their runtimes, and as such, their stories must be altered to fit into a bite-sized dimension. This is not so with other types of media. Maybe this means that we’ll see more faithful depictions of a lawyer’s life in the future…though probably not in movies. Related posts: Becoming Resilient is Key For Young Lawyers FAWL Launches ‘Board Certification Boot Camp’ for Women...

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How to Negotiate Your First Legal Job

Let’s face it: salary negotiations are tough. The entire job-hunting process is incredibly lengthy and stressful, which makes the prospect of negotiating your salary before accepting a position (thereby potentially putting a solid offer in jeopardy) more than a little frightening. It isn’t any easier for law students who are trying to break into the legal profession, despite what you might think. If you’re a law student looking for advice in this area, then you’re in luck! Here are some tips for negotiating your first salary in the legal profession. Negotiating Your First Salary The entire process starts with two things: doing your due diligence salary research and finding a base value or self-worth for yourself as a professional. Perform an exhaustive search of similar salaries in your field and for the specific job you’re applying for (there’s a surprising amount of depth in the legal field). Next comes examining your professional strengths and determining a range of salaries that you feel match your worth. Having this range of numbers will make salary negotiations much easier! When determining your self worth, remember that dollar signs aren’t the only way you can be compensated. Extra vacation time, flexible hours, and other perks that can increase your work-life balance are alternatives that you can bring up if you feel an offer is too low. Speaking of low offers: don’t be afraid to make a counteroffer to a low bid. Compromise is the name of the game in negotiations, so don’t feel obliged to accept the first offer you receive. But don’t be too quick to bring up salary in the interview process! You should give simple, short answers (usually yes and no) when asked about salary ranges before you receive an actual offer and the real negotiations can begin. If you bring up salary too early, this can easily turn off your potential employer. Lastly, to avoid making any hasty decisions, always request a bit of time to think over your offer before making a final choice. No related...

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Becoming Resilient is Key For Young Lawyers

Let’s face it: Being a lawyer comes with a lot of stress. There are many stressful factors day-to-day that seem particularly unique to the legal profession. However, there are a few ways to change how you approach your job and your life that can keep you from being overwhelmed by those stresses. If you’re a young lawyer, now is the perfect time to learn how you can become resilient in the face of these adversities and excel as a litigator. How to Become a Resilient Lawyer Know your stress Analyze what pushes your buttons and sets off your stress, and then learn how you can mitigate it. This knowledge will help you keep yourself from situations that will trigger stress, or at least help you prepare to meet them head-on! Knowledge really is power. Believe in yourself This may seem too simple, but that actual belief in yourself and your own ability to be successful can go a long way. Your mental attitude unquestionably impacts how you view the world and make decisions, so keeping a positive frame of mind is a must. Learn what satisfies you What satisfies you about legal work? Were you drawn to law because you want to help people, or did you gravitate towards a rigorous profession where you would learn something new everyday? Whatever your motivation is, try to come back to it again and again whenever you are feeling unsure of yourself or if you begin to lose your motivation. Reaffirming why you joined the legal profession will keep your spirits high! Get some help! There’s no shame in getting some help dealing with your stress. Try finding tools or techniques that will help you survive particularly stressful situations, especially ones where you’ll have no way out and will have to simply endure and persevere. Work-life balance is key Find ways to have fun outside of work! Don’t disregard the incredible importance of work-life balance. Work-life balance is important for all professionals, though this is especially true for lawyers and others with high-stress jobs. What advice do you have for becoming a resilient lawyer? Share with us by leaving a comment below! Related posts: The Depiction Of Lawyers in...

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How to Peacefully and Legally End a Business Partnership

Ending a business partnership can be incredibly difficult, especially if you started a business with a friend or family member. During such a trying and emotional time, it is especially important to ensure that you are crossing your Ts and dotting you Is. How to End Your Business Partnership Dissolving a business partnership is governed by state law, so you should check your state’s website for information about their exact process and which forms you’ll need to fill out. It commonly takes 90 days from filing a statement of dissolution to the actual dissolving of the partnership. The purpose of the forms is to make sure that neither party is saddled with the debts or responsibilities of the other party. If you didn’t have an agreement with your business partner, try to work one out for yourself. If that doesn’t work, then finding a moderator would be a great idea. No taxes are required to specifically end a business partnership, but account for business-owned property that has appreciated in value and for payment of business and employer taxes. To learn more about the nitty-gritty of the process, click here. Helpful Tips Be sure to get everything in writing, and don’t be afraid to lean on your contract. You want things to be official, and you don’t want to get stuck without a deal. If this happens, you’ll have to do a lot more work. In general, be kind and generous, yet as reasonable as possible. Most importantly, keep your emotions out of it! You and/or your former business partner are likely emotional at this point, and it is important that you don’t let your feelings (whether remorse or hatred) to cloud your judgment or get in the way of doing the right thing. Define what your mutually desired outcomes are, and try to reach a happy compromise. Hire an attorney! Even if you feel like you know what you are doing, consider hiring an attorney that specializes in business partnership dissolution just to be sure that you are doing everything right. Related posts: How Business Credit Actually Works Red Flags When Purchasing a Business Misleading Small Business Legal Advice to...

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