Preparation for Lawsuit
We are currently investigating the case and preparing your file for litigation. Additionally, we are working on drafting the Answer to the Complaint. If we believe their are any viable counter-claims, we will discuss those with you. If we think we have viable counterclaims, we will need all evidence to support that we can win the counterclaims otherwise such claims could be considered frivolous. If the answer is filed prior to the answer hearing, we do not have to appear at that hearing. As such, we generally file written answers as opposed to attending the answer hearings.
We have sent the Answer and any potential counter-claims in for filing. If there are counterclaims, the Plaintiff will have 30 days to file an Answer to the counter-claims with the Court. Sometimes we allow an additional time to file an Answer to counter-claims. This is very common in litigation, and we recommend trying to work in good faith with opposing counsel from the onset of the case. Upon the Answer being filed, we will be moving to the discovery stage.
The discovery stage of civil litigation involves fact gathering. Both sides involved in the case are able to formally exchange information about the upcoming trial during discovery. This information includes a list of evidence and witnesses that will be presented during the trial. The discovery stage of a case helps prevent surprises during the trial and allows both sides to prepare. We will need some information from you during this stage, and we will be in touch to obtain this information. The discovery stage can take 2 to 6 months depending on the complexity of the case.
Mediation is a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Unlike the litigation process, where a neutral third party (usually a judge) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process — deciding when and where the mediation takes place, who will be present, and how the mediator will interact with the parties. The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved. We are hopeful we will be able to resolve the case during this stage, but if not, we will prepare for trial. Considering there are several people and schedules involved, it takes time to coordinate a mediation date. We will let you know of the time/date/location of mediation when it is set.
Once the parties have completed discovery and mediation, the court will schedule a pre-trial hearing. A pre-trial hearing is an informal hearing during which the attorneys will discuss the basic facts in dispute with the court and a trial date will be set. How quickly the hearing is scheduled depends primarily on the court’s availability and clients do not usually appear (although you are always welcome) at a pre-trial hearing.
Prepare for Trial/Trial/Closing the Case
If we were unable to resolve your case in mediation, we plan to move forward and plan for trial. Preparing for trial takes several hours, and we will let you know of anything we need from you during this time period. We are at the mercy of the Court in terms of a trial date, and we will let you know as soon as we receive a trial date. From there, we will schedule a time to meet and prepare you for trial. This stage can take generally between 2 to 12 months depending on the Court’s docket.