If you are a business owner, the last thing you want to think about is dealing with a lawsuit. However, it is important to take steps to be as prepared for any potential litigation as you can. In fact, taking steps to prepare before you are sued or need to sue another party, can save you a significant amount of money.
Most business litigation attorneys charge by the hour, so any measures you can take to be organized and efficient will benefit you financially as well as assist your lawyer in effectively representing you. Below are a few tips on things to implement in your business’s record-keeping and general organization of documents:
- Maintain a detailed calendar. You may think you will always remember the day events occur, but as time passes our memories get blurrier. Keeping a very detailed calendar can help prove where you were on the day the events in question occurred. Calendar entries that are most helpful in litigation state where you were, who else attended, and what activities were taking place. While these may seem like mundane details, they can later prove to be extremely important. Dates can also be critical in determining statutes of limitations, which is the deadline for when a lawsuit must be filed.
- Keep a thorough record of meetings. If your board of directors, shareholders, managers or even employees have a meeting, recording what is discussed and who was present at the meeting is important. Many times the issue in a lawsuit is when you became aware of the problem and, if you were not at a meeting where the issue was discussed, your notes from the meeting can prove you did not have notice on that date.
- Take notes regarding important conversations. While this may seem like a waste of your time, judges and juries tend to view notetakers as being meticulous, reliable and honest. Claiming that you remember word-for-word a conversation that occurred years ago seems unlikely; however, reviewing notes that refresh your memory is much easier to believe. A few details that you should include in notes summarizing conversations are the topic of discussion, the parties involved, any specific risks or concerns that arose, and whether an argument or disagreement occurred. Your notes do not have to be lengthy, just enough to jog your memory later and to help prove your position.
- Keep unused drafts of documents. A common issue in business litigation is the intent of the parties. Information that is added or deleted from negotiated documents can demonstrate intent.
- Prepare a timeline. Before meeting with your attorney, draft a timeline of events. A chronology can help organize what occurred and who is involved. All the documents you have maintained will help you prepare the timeline so your attorney can easily see when events, meetings, conversations, and other important occurrences happened.
Following the above steps can make mean the difference between a victory and a loss in litigation. If your business is being sued or is seeking to file a lawsuit against another party, contact Mailly Law. We are experienced in a wide variety of business litigation matters and we stand ready to fight for you.