Ask the legal expert ... about winning resolution proceedings
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
I'm tired of losing informal dispute resolution proceedings. How can I win one?
There is no magic formula. Each case, whether tried before a judge, jury or before an arbitration panel, will depend upon facts, witnesses and counsel. However, there are ways to try to gain an edge in any type of dispute resolution proceeding.
In these proceedings, you and your opponent will have an opportunity to select a panel or a single arbitrator. This selection process is one advantage over the court system, in which you do not get to choose your judge. Take advantage of it. Do your homework. Research the backgrounds of the proposed arbitrators. Try to find someone who may be sympathetic to your case and has experience.
If you have an opportunity to interview the arbitrator, do it. Though not an exact science, choosing the right arbitrator can be critical.
You should keep in mind that although this process is an alternative to the court system, there are still many similarities. The discovery process will be less thorough, costly and onerous, but you will want to make sure that you produce and obtain from the other side the key pieces of evidence you need to present the best defense. Identify those critical pieces of evidence early.
The best thing you can do to win your case is to prepare, prepare, prepare. This rule applies whether you are in front of a judge, jury or arbitrator. You must know your case inside and out. Know your theories and know the other side's theories. You should present your best witnesses and if any are shaky, spend time preparing them. Your witnesses should be prepared for the tough questions and your lawyers should be prepared for the tough legal arguments.