My clients are generally not very happy when they come to see me. Maybe someone has screwed them over and now they want to sue. Maybe they’ve been accused of screwing someone over and they need me to defend them. Or maybe they both think the other guy’s a jerk and they just want to make them suffer!
That’s great…until they get my bill. It’s not exactly a secret that litigation is expensive.
“But – but – but I get it all back if I win, right? I get costs?”
The answer to that is…not really. Except in a rare and limited number of circumstances, you’re going to be getting costs on a “partial indemnity” basis. That’s usually between 50-75% of what you’ve actually paid your lawyers, leaning towards the lower end – and that’s only if you win.
The financial costs aren’t the only issue with litigation. It’s a long and drawn out process to get to trial, usually taking between 2-5 years. More, if the matter is especially complex. That’s years of stress and worry, and emails, calls and visits with me on a semi-regular basis.
“But if I make an offer…won’t I look weak?”
I get this question almost every time I recommend making an offer to settle. The answer is NO! In Ontario, around 90% of cases settle before trial. Settlement isn’t something that just magically happens. It happens because people make offers. And really, the better your position is, the more you want to get that offer out on the table. Maybe the offer won’t get accepted as-is, but it should at least get both sides to the negotiating table. (And bonus: even if you don’t settle, if your offer is still open when you go to trial and then you beat that offer, the court will give you more money towards your costs!)
Sure, the other guy’s a jerk and the offer represents some concessions you’re not entirely happy with, but the important thing is that they won’t be entirely happy either! When both of you are equally unhappy with the resolution, that’s what we call a good settlement.
Once you settle, you get your life back. No more worrying about what’s going to happen. No more drafts from your lawyer that you need to discuss and/or approve. No more examinations or conferences or motion. No more bills!
Or, hey, keep the fight going. I’m happy to keep billing you for it.
Jennifer Vrancic cut her teeth on insurance defense work, but what attracted her to Scarfone Hawkins-in addition to the firm’s impressive reputation-was the diversity of civil and commercial litigation matters she would get a taste of. Today you’ll find her supporting the Thompson, Moloci and Stanton team on everything from shareholder disputes to oppression remedies with her trademark calm confidence.