Our firm handles many types of business disputes—just about as many types as you can think of. We do both plaintiff and defense work, with clients ranging from individuals to large companies.
It is probably more efficient to tell you what we don’t do than what we do. We don’t do family law, criminal law, or trust and estate law. Instead, we handle just about anything that comes under the handle of “civil litigation”. I help people sue people, or defend them from being sued by people. My cases involve people—private individuals and companies—fighting over money or property or some other asset, as opposed to fighting over kids or a divorce or whether or not somebody’s going to go to prison. If the government is ever involved in my cases, then I will be representing the private person or business, not the government.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Business Disputes?
I’ve seen business disputes caused by many different things.
Some business disputes are related to employment. In some cases, a business might have a problem with an employee or several employees. In others, employees might have a problem with how they were let go, or how they were denied full compensation for their labor, or appropriate workplace protections. Some business disputes are related to contract disagreements or other contract-related issues. Perhaps someone signed a contract and they don’t think they got what they bargained for, or they produced something contractually and never got paid for it. Still others have to do with intellectual property issues.
While I don’t do criminal law, I sometimes defend private individuals or businesses against governmental infractions or encroachments. For instance, some of my cases have to do with fighting civil forfeiture. Let’s say you got arrested because you were caught with an illegal marijuana grow operation in your basement. The government may try to forfeit your house as a penalty for the infraction. In a case like that, I would be responsible for representing the individual (or business) who is fighting that act of forfeiture.
Again, in a case like the one above (i.e., cases that might deal with the government or even criminal circumstances but are not criminal law in nature), I don’t handle anything that has to do with whether or not anyone goes to prison or gets carceral penalties. I strictly handle the parts of these cases that deal with money, property, and assets. I might also help people as they fight for things they are entitled to, like insurance or disability benefits.
Is It Necessary To Hire A Business Attorney For Business Litigation, Or Can I Try To Handle Business Litigation On My Own?
This depends on your particular case. Generally, if a case is worth $5,000 or less, you can probably handle it yourself. If it’s worth more than that, you will almost certainly need to hire a business litigation attorney.
If a case is worth more than $5,000, the other side is likely to have a lawyer as well, and the legal issues around the case will probably be more complex than a layperson can reliably understand and handle (especially when they are up against an experienced attorney). For better or for worse, the more money is involved in a case, the more complicated our legal system becomes—to the extent that it often appears completely illogical to those who are inexperienced in dealing with it.
When people try to represent themselves in these larger cases, they usually wind up very quickly facing all sorts of rules and regulations they have to follow, or that they were required to follow and already failed to follow because they did not know they existed. This often ends cases before they even start.
This basically makes it necessary to hire an attorney in business cases over a certain worth. Like it or not, that’s our system.
Should I Try To Settle My Business Dispute Outside Of Court Before Suing?
Yes, you should almost always try to settle your business dispute outside of court before resorting to a lawsuit.
Importantly, this does not mean that you shouldn’t hire a business lawyer. A business lawyer is often necessary to advise you about whether or not to take a settlement offer outside of court, and/or how to negotiate for a better extra-litigatory settlement.
In fact, most cases settle out of court. All sides want to avoid the cost (including time, money, and heartache) that comes with a lawsuit, so only a small percentage of cases go to trial. I have been a practicing business attorney for twenty years, and in that time I have filed around one lawsuit a year on average.
So, not only should you try to settle out of court, but you should expect that this is the way your case will resolve. With that in mind, the sooner discussion about settling out of court is initiated, the better it usually is for all sides. Oftentimes, though, you will need a lawyer to get to the point of settlement—especially if the other side has a lawyer.
My Business Partner Has Breached Our Contract. What Legal Action Can I Take At This Point? Which Steps Should I Take?
If your business partner breaches your contract, the first thing to do is to come in to see me or any experienced business attorney. In our initial consultation, I will take a look at the contract, hear the story of how they breached the contract, and then figure out what rights you have and how to pursue them.
Often, we will start off with some sort of a demand letter. This is basically an official letter from your attorney telling your business partner exactly what they did wrong, and what you expect them to do to fix it.
Your business partner will usually have one of two responses to a demand letter. One response is to decide to comply, and to promptly do what is asked of them in the letter. Obviously, this is the desired outcome. The other response—and, unfortunately, the much more common response—is to say, “I’m not going to do that, and furthermore, you’re wrong about what I did wrong.” They might do this by phone or email or in person, or in the form of a formal response letter from their attorney.
In the case of the second response, we begin the process of negotiation and perhaps ultimately litigation. Still, the first step would be to figure out what your rights are and what your prospective remedies are, which is something I can help you with.
For more information on Business Litigation in Wisconsin, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (920) 754-3944 today.
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