Copple & Associates,P.C.

Providing creative and effective strategies

Why Dispute Management?

WHY A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO DISPUTE MANAGEMENT?

“If war is a tool of diplomacy, then litigation is a tool of negotiation." 


                                                                                                   
Robert F. Copple 
                                                                                                   Alternatives to Litigation 
                                                                                                   Arizona Republic, June 27, 2004




Disputes are a natural part of virtually any human endeavor involving two or more people. For business enterprises, the primary focus on competition and profit creates an economic environment in which disputes should be expected and are a cost of doing business. Likewise, political endeavors and government relations are fertile ground for disagreements and disputes. One might say that disputes are simply a natural part of the business and democratic processes.

With careful planning and proactive policies and procedures, many disputes can be prevented. Those that can’t be prevented can usually be effectively managed and resolved. Unfortunately, what I have observed far too frequently is that otherwise bright and rational business people may take an irrational approach to business or governmental disputes. Because dispute prevention requires forethought and implementation, disputes are frequently ignored until after the dispute has crystallized and the tension levels have grown dangerously high. Even then, busy managers may simply ignore a dispute in hopes that it will resolve itself or that the opposing party will lose interest.

Time and again, the result is an all out lawsuit with a burn rate that will eat up company resources and distract key decision makers from core business goals. They may take the counterproductive attitude that they are involved in a battle to the death, a test of will in which any discussion of compromise or private resolution is an unacceptable sign of weakness. Both parties will bear wounds from this ill-advised course of action. In addition to enormous litigation costs, because of the vagaries of the judge and jury, the loser may face a disproportionate and financially crippling monetary judgment or an injunction that will forever limit the future prospects of the business. Even the winner may be left a loser as a result of high legal costs and permanently damaged business or public relationships.

Fortunately legal disputes are not a one way street with no exits.  Instead there are many routes to the successful resolution a dispute.  The goals of a systematic approach to dispute management are really very simple:

To prevent as many disputes as possible.

To effectively manage and resolve those that can't be prevented.

And, for those that can not be resolved prior to litigation, to develop   the most effective and efficient litigation / negotiation strategy to manage the litigation in manner that provides the highest probability for an optimum result.