Too often litigation matters are settled within one month of the trial date, after
years of litigation. A fortune is spent in legal bills and expenses, such as expert
fees, videotape depositions, thousands upon thousands of documents, employee
time…the list goes on and on. And in many instances, the lawsuit settles for less than
the attorney fees incurred. So often, most of these expenses are needless. Why? Because no one attempted an early resolution.
For over 15 years and for several different corporate clients, Kevin Murphy traveled
the country in defense of litigation matters. In some instances, Kevin would be lead
trial counsel. In other more parochial jurisdictions, Kevin would hire local counsel.
In all cases, Kevin would attempt an early resolution of the dispute.
One of Kevin’s goals from the very outset of any lawsuit is to assess liability. If his
client has no liability, his job is to convince opposing counsel of that fact, or
depending upon the circumstances, settle early for nuisance value. If liability is
in fact an issue, then an attempt is made for an early resolution with opposing
counsel, before the legal bills started rolling in with depositions, court appearances,
and motion practice. These early resolutions save clients huge sums of money.
Now, the legal community has given a name to what Kevin has been doing for two
decades, and that is settlement counsel. In addition to corporate clients, plaintiff
and defense attorneys have sought his advice on trying to obtain early resolutions
to business disputes and tort litigation, either as settlement counsel or a mediator.
It makes sense for all parties.
Every day, litigation attorneys face a dilemma. They know that 97 percent of all civil
cases either settle or get dismissed by way of summary judgment. They also know that
an early resolution is generally better than the massive expense and risk of litigation.
But attorneys also know that many corporate clients want a lawyer with a tough
reputation, and raising the idea of settlement may present the wrong impression,
not to mention cutting into billable hours. Hiring settlement counsel at the outset
can eliminate these conflicts of interest.
The goal of settlement counsel is to reach a resolution either before a lawsuit has commenced, or shortly thereafter. Settlement counsel can help by suggesting approaches and ideas that neither side contemplated. This approach can result in
certain remedies that the law cannot provide. One such example is a lawsuit settlement Kevin crafted that resulted in a new five-year contract between the parties, resulting
in a sizable profit for his client. Kevin’s understanding of the client’s business and
goals, along with his training as a certified mediator, was key to this successful conclusion.