OK, let me start by saying that my real beef is with civil litigators, not all lawyers and though I may use the term “lawyer” in my blog, it is the litigators I am really upset with. I also understand that we need rules of law and people to help guide us through them, such as my colleague here on the Entrepreneur.com Blog Network, Nina Kaufman, who writes the Making it Legal blog (Nina, please don’t hate me . . . for what I’m about to say).
Not all lawyers are litigators. However, all litigators are lawyers and it is that particular group of people that I think have made a mess out of our legal system.
The most outrageous legal cases can make it to court and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. I recently saw a case where a man decided NOT to renew his services with a business, then sued the business for the loss of income he incurred by not renewing the service! That’s right. He chose to not renew, then sued because he lost income after not renewing the service! Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, to just about any sane person, it is. Unfortunately, litigators can make the most incredible “legal” arguments out of the most outrageous claims, and judges feel compelled to let them go through the system. Welcome to America!
All of this means that the defendants have to pay thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of dollars to defend these insane claims.
This particular case that I mentioned above dragged on for years in the legal system and cost the defending parties more than $100,000 to defend! The primary defendant refused to settle at any cost. She was not going to buckle to extortion from this guy. However, two of the secondary defendants finally paid a few thousand dollars to make this extortionist and his litigator go away because they couldn’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to have this go all the way through court. The ONLY winner was the litigator.
When I hear stories like this, I can’t help but wonder if Shakespeare got it right in Henry VI when he said the first thing we do is get rid of the lawyers! (OK, I know, that’s not the exact quote but, I don’t want to be sued by someone saying that I was threatening bodily harm to this esteemed group of professionals).
In preparation for writing this blog, I did some research on Shakespeare’s quote and I read one legal website that wrote that Shakespeare’s statement was actually a defense of lawyers because the comment was made by criminals. Therefore they (the criminals) just wanted the “good guys” (the lawyers) out of the way. Wow, and we wonder why the legal system is a mess. Sorry, only lawyers could argue that the quote from Shakespeare was a compliment!
Well, I believe in solutions and not just describing problems. So here are some possible solutions. First, I believe that there should be mandatory mediation between parties before any lawsuit can ever be filed (the litigators will hate this one)! From personal experience (and contracts that I’ve done), this often works). The problem is, anyone can sue anyone for anything before there is any face-to-face time with a professional mediator. Second, I believe that 100 percent of the time, the losing party should pay the winning party’s legal fees. Furthermore, I think the losing litigator should share in paying this fee! This will make the extortionists and litigators very cautious about the ridiculous lawsuits that are filed. Watch how many crazy lawsuits cease if the lawyers pushing the process have to pay something if they lose!
Hey, these are only ideas–there may be many better ones out there. I just know one thing. Our legal system is a mess, and it’s going to take a sledgehammer and a lot of work to fix it. What are your recommendations?
OK, I feel better now. Oh, wait–I forgot something important:
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