Lawyers’ fees have made a cost-effective resolution of cases or disputes with a value of less than $100,000 and probably $200,000, no longer possible.

Although it happens, it’s unusual if a dispute is about establishing some precedent or as a means of inflicting punishment.  Most disputes can be categorized as economic propositions and the only effective way to resolve disputes is through the process of mediation.  There is no loser in mediation because you have to agree to the outcome.  You can learn more about the details of you opponents claim in mediation than you could in litigation and at a fraction of the cost.  Mediation provides the means of beginning the job of persuading your opponent of the worthiness of your claim, immediately.  In litigation, persuasion is dealt with as the very last job.  An early simultaneous mediation process even while you are litigating will most of the time result in a cost-effective early resolution.

As a sole practitioner for 50 years, I took cases as they were presented to me, which has accounted for the fact that, I have successfully litigated and mediated a wide variety of cases that have included labor relations issues, business and labor contract issues, scientific research issues, inheritance issues, medical malpractice, personal injuries, constructive trusts, closely-held and family business disputes.

If I was able to thoroughly understand and get comfortable with a new matter with which I had no previous experience, I went forward.  I retrospect, I have always been very satisfied that my career has turned out that way.

In representing claimants or plaintiffs, I have had multi-million-dollar results and nearly all those results included litigation and simultaneous mediation.  I think mediation is nearly always the most effective dispute resolution tool.

To facilitate mediation, the process is subject to Ohio Evidence Rule 408 which means that evidence of conduct or statements made in compromise negotiations is not admissible in any litigation proceeding.

 

WRITTEN VALUATION AGREEMENTS ARE CRITICAL FOR ALL CLOSELY HELD BUSINESSES

In representing closely held and family owned businesses for the last 25 years, I have been involved in too many ugly, acrimonious disputes among people who had previously valued each other’s skills and hard work.

Privately owned businesses have the same profile as a family-owned business. The relationships and expectation among the owners become very personal and quickly influence business operations and expectations.

Relationships too often descend into – Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is responsible for our success, most of all? You, of course.

I recently helped resolve a dispute where business partners each separately incurred a Quarter-Million Dollars in legal fees arguing over a Quarter-Million Dollars in assets. The process provided full employment for the lawyers and nothing but frustration for the litigants.

An Insurance Policy exists to avoid all ownership issues and disputes.

It’s called a Valuation Agreement. The owners of the business agree in writing to the value of the business as to all ownership transactions among the owners. The Valuation Agreement requires the owners to agree in writing to a value every year after the financial results for the year are in. Help from CPAs or certified valuation professionals at least every other year is essential. Agreeing to a value for a startup business is essential to get the owners focused on the process and can generally be done without professional help. When owners invest in valuation professionals they begin to appreciate the value of the process and commit themselves to living up to the terms of the agreement.

When no Valuation Agreement exists, disputes arise, each party hires their own valuation professional, the dispute is litigated and the owners wind up providing full employment for lawyers and unacceptable outcomes for themselves.

I can help you put together a Valuation Agreement for a tiny fraction of the cost if you don’t.