Parties are often reluctant to spend heavily on developing a case in its early stages opting instead to wait until closer to trial to see if the case will settle on its own before incurring costs. However, this approach typically will cost a client more money overall. Here is what an early case assessment can do for you.
What is an Early Case Assessment?
An early case assessment means doing more than just assessing the potential risks or costs of a legal action. This includes developing overall themes and strategies and identifying potential weakness or strengths in the evidence. A lawyer should know which direction a case is heading from the beginning and be able to efficiently guide it there. Obviously, in order to gain this level of knowledge, a lawyer will have to spend significant time early on to intimately learn the facts of the case. While this may cost more initially, the hard work up front will have its benefits and will lower the cost of litigation overall by providing other efficiencies.
Benefits of an Early Case Assessment
There are many ways to see a return on your investment in an early case assessment:
Better (and Cheaper) Discovery from the Outset
- You will be able to draft better and more targeted requests;
- You will only pursue worthwhile avenues and avoid a scorched earth style of discovery;
- You can get early involvement of experts who can contribute and identify what information they need; and
- You can stipulate to noncontroversial facts and eliminate unnecessary discovery in that area.
More Disciplined Case Management
- There will be less spikes in costs for deposition, mediation, and trial preparation;
- There will be no need to negotiate for discovery extensions or file last minute motions; and
- You will have a better idea of the value of a case which leads to more effective settlement negotiations and a quicker resolution.
What to Take Away
We all know that avoiding a potential problem makes it worse. Just ask your doctor next time you show up for your yearly physical a decade late. The same logic works in any of your cases. Get out in front and know what you can do to resolve it. No problem is solved with wishful thinking.
For more information on early case assessments, please review the Settlement Perspectives blog.