Many people find the prospect of litigation – having to “go to court”- intimidating, at the least. Many people think that only large law firms with many attorneys can provide representation when they need to go to court. In fact, most court cases don’t need a large law firm. Probate litigation can involve claims like being left out of a will, or misuse of the assets of a deceased person. Probate litigation can also arise from creditors of the deceased making claims. Because probate litigation uses the same general rules as other civil litigation, we can also handle other kinds of civil disputes, such as breach of contract, construction defects, and business disputes.
Another important skill for a litigation lawyer is knowing how and when to use alternative dispute resolution methods.
What is “alternative dispute resolution”?
Today, most lawsuits are resolved without a trial using alternative dispute resolution. These methods can take several forms. Most often the parties to a lawsuit will use mediation with a single mediator, or arbitration with one or three arbitrators. Many courts in Florida now require the parties to try mediation at least once before the court will hold a trial.
How does mediation work?
Mediators are individuals approved by the court system to meet with the parties to a lawsuit and help them reach an agreement to settle. The mediator will meet at a mutually convenient time and place, then talk with each side separately and discuss each side’s case. These discussions are confidential. The mediator tries to get the parties to make reasonable compromises and agree on a resolution. That agreement is put in writing and approved by the judge. Most mediators are attorneys with lengthy experience. Some are retired judges.
How is arbitration different from mediation?
Arbitrators listen to the evidence and make a decision on the issues in a dispute, much the same way a judge or jury does. The arbitrator’s decision may be binding as a result of an agreement or contract, or it can be non-binding. Arbitration is typically less expensive than a trial, and there is less formality in the presentation of evidence. Experienced attorneys will use non-binding arbitration to assess the case and to help reach a settlement.
When civil litigation becomes necessary, experience can really count towards resolving the dispute favorably. Knowing the rules of court and how to manage a lawsuit in an efficient and cost-effective manner is a skill acquired through experience. An experienced lawyer that is ready, willing, and able to go to the court is also in a better position to negotiate. We have experience in a broad range of litigation, enabling us to provide effective representation in many kinds of probate and civil litigation matters. Our goal is to use our experience to provide cost-effective counsel to you.
Contact our probate attorneys in Clearwater today at 727-735-0645.