Litigation is a term lawyers use to describe lawsuits. Our society has decided that lawsuits are the way to resolve conflicts without throwing punches and fighting one another in the streets. Compared to other legal systems around the world, our approach to resolving fights or disputes works wonders. It can be improved, but it is amazing to see it work. For example, last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the offices of a company that I sued on behalf of a client. I sent a list of questions for them to answer in this case. The lawsuit involves claims for breach of contract, fraud, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, civil theft, tortious interference with contract, and misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential/proprietary information. Despite going to court multiple times to get them to answer my list of questions, the defendants’ lawyer kept playing games with me and the court. That is a terrible way to approach the lawsuit, because it doesn’t serve the client and is effectively thumbing one’s nose to a court–never a good idea.
Well, the Harris County District Court Judge ordered his clients to produce the documents I was asking for, and I was given access to the documents at the defendants’ place of business. I went to their office with my client and another attorney. My associate lawyer and I spent hours reviewing documents that should have been produced months ago.
Can you imagine how invasive that must have felt? Three complete strangers, two of them lawyers, get to come into your business and run their microscope all over your business operations. If the defendant wanted to protect its trade secrets from me, it lost that battle. Besides disrupting your business activities for that time period, what message does that send to your employees about how you conduct business with the court? How many hours were spent collecting all the data only to have the opposing lawyer review the documents?
Where else in the world can the legal system provide that kind of access? The sophistication of our legal system should not be taken for granted, and we should cherish the rights we have.