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I Know My Company Is in the Right—Why Should We Settle?

With some notable exceptions, most corporate litigation defense today deals almost exclusively with limiting the damage, not with winning or with proving a point. Litigation can be hideously expensive — for example, the sheer ease and volume of electronic communications today may add significantly to the cost of discovery — and that’s before the jury reaches a verdict.

The chief advantage to settling a case, even when you know you have the legal and moral high ground, lies in predictability and certainty. Every time you take a case before a jury or judge, you essentially roll the dice, hoping that the judge will see things your way or that no one on the jury harbors a secret grudge against your business — or has a secret deal with the other side’s attorney.

If you are a defendant, you could challenge an outrageous jury award and potentially have it reduced on appeal, but you still have to go through the expense and hassle of appealing, and the worry that an appeals judge will simply let the judgment stand.

Settling out of court provides advantages to both sides. Plaintiffs, although they may feel they deserve more, have at least some money right away and are no longer facing prolonged litigation with an uncertain outcome. Defendants can settle for a manageable amount instead of risking much higher judgments in court, and plan for tax and other financial consequences in advance. Working with a corporate litigation attorney who you trust to put your interests before his or her own, and who will give you honest assessments of the likelihood of success in court, can help you decide whether and when to settle.

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