Thank you to Epiphany Law for presenting a fantastic seminar on “Five Steps to Protect Your Business and Avoid Litigation”. I wanted to share some excellent reminders that Heather Macklin discussed:
- Communication is one of the primary things you can do to avoid disputes with clients, employees, and competitors. Remember not to over promise.
- Keep promises that you make. However, if you cannot keep your promise for some reason, let the person know. Offer a plan on how you will resolve the issue and make it right. Call first and then be sure to follow up with an email detailing whatever agreed was reached.
- Don’t avoid difficult situations or conversations, because they can soon escalate. Be proactive.
- Evaluate how your tone may be perceived, especially with respect to the communication medium being used.
- Sometimes it is best to swallow your pride in the beginning of an issue to save legal costs in the future.
- Be sure to have your contracts reviewed.
- Keep all signed copies of everything (showing both party’s signatures).
- Keep all of your emails organized in a good filing system.
- Don’t do handshake deals — this includes for both business or personal agreements.
- Avoid using Google templates to create your agreements/contracts (each state has different legal aspects and you don’t know if the templates are accurate/updated)
- Be sure that you understand all vendor agreements and provisions. It is best to hire legal counsel for custom deal contracts, settlement agreements, employee handbooks, document retention policies, sexual harassment policies, and non-competes.
- Save what is important, such as contracts, loan documents, documents underlying contracts, relevant negotiations, proof of payment, calendars, and tax information.
- Toss out what is not important (litigation attorneys will have to review all of your excess emails and documentation which will result in much higher fees).
- Evaluate best practices on how your employees should communicate.
- Litigation Hold – You must hold onto all documentation related to a dispute or lawsuit. Once you know of a dispute, hold onto all information so that nothing gets deleted. Loss of relevant evidence because of failure to institute a litigation hold can result in negative sanctions against you by the Court in any related litigation.