I often hear at the outset of a case that one or both parties want to “stand on principle.” When it is my client who wants to do so, I am frequently asked whether we have a “good chance of winning” and, if so, they say they want to proceed. Sometimes they want to do so despite my warnings about the potential cost. Rather than merely deciding whether to sue based upon principle, in my opinion we should stop so we do not lose the forest for this particular, thorny and annoying tree.
In some cases, the fight is inevitable. The issue is too big, the stakes are the survival of a company, or parties just need someone (i.e. the court) to separate them. That said, there are often alternatives to a lawsuit. Rather than standing on “principle,” I encourage my clients to ask themselves:
- What exactly do I want to accomplish? Can I get that from the court?
- What do I think the other side wants to accomplish? Are these things I am willing to give up?
- Should I fight here? Or learn from the situation and put myself in a better position next time?
- Am I better off simply using the same resources to beat them in the marketplace?