Thanks to my colleague Marc Berkemeier for this week’s legal portion.
As technology advances and we find new ways to deal with the mounds of discovery demands and electronic information that come across our desks, more and more firms are using outside vendors for technical assistance. For example, they may hire a discovery vendor to sift through a client’s internal hard drives to search for lost files or earlier versions of important documents. A client may also require database assistance to sort relevant data into a format that is easily useable by counsel and the court. Although such projects can result in significant time and money savings for your client throughout the litigation process, it is important to remember that certain privacy rights cannot be ignored.
Certain people have been somewhat bothered by the absence of an identifiable relationship between the legal and baseball portions of my blog. I have thought about trying to link them together, but I have concluded that to do so would be contrived or trying to force a square peg into a round hole. So since it is my blog, and I can do what I want, I am not going to do that, although I might try on occasion. Here is one of those occasions – 9 things not to do when you switch jobs unless you want you and your new employer to end up getting sued for misappropriation of trade secrets/confidential information, improper solicitation or unfair competition (all from recent cases I handled) – one for each inning (alright, a bit contrived-I agree)
Thanks to my colleague David Mead for this week’s legal portion.
Dealing With Being Sued
Did you know that approximately 1.4 million lawsuits are filed in California every year? That is a rather large number of lawsuits and California is usually up there as one of the most litigious states in the United States. Despite the large number of actions filed annually in California, most individuals and businesses have fortunately never been named as a defendant or cross-defendant in a lawsuit. As such, you may not be familiar with the legal process and do not know what to do when you have been sued.
When a plaintiff files a lawsuit, there are generally two main documents that are submitted to the court. One is the complaint, which is a document that details the claims that the plaintiff is making against the various defendants. Such claims could be, for example, breach of contract, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, personal injury, wrongful death, etc. The complaint is usually unverified, meaning that the statements contained therein are merely allegations set forth by the plaintiff and not sworn to be the truth. In limited circumstances, the plaintiff may filed a verified complaint in which the plaintiff swears under penalty of perjury that the facts contained in the complaint are the truth. The other document that is submitted with the complaint is a summons, which is a written order to somebody to appear in court to answer the complaint. The summons is the document that requires you to respond to the complaint in court. Once the court has issued the summons and accepted the complaint for filing, the plaintiff must then have the summons and a copy of the complaint served on you. This is called service of process.
Thanks to my colleague Bruce Dizenfeld for the legal portion this week.
Hiring an Attorney
We don’t often get the chance to provide general advice on when someone should look for a business lawyer. Once a client has been referred to us, our focus turns to addressing the situation presented. I was given the opportunity recently to write a chapter for an independently published self-help business book THE Book on Business From A to Z The 260 Most Important Answers You Need, published by Build It Backwards Publishing (which happens to also be a client)–[see www.BuildItBackwards.com.]. The format of the chapter I wrote involved addressing 10 general questions a business executive or entrepreneur should consider when looking for a lawyer. What is included here is an excerpt from that chapter. Other excerpts will be included in this blog in the future. If you are interested in reading the entire chapter or the book, just click the above link.
When do I need to hire an attorney? When you have a legal question or problem you should look for an introduction to an attorney. Attorney time can be expensive so you should not engage an attorney until you at least have an idea of what you want to accomplish. However, once you can express what you have in mind as a business objective, it may be beneficial to speak with several attorneys. Use this interview process to get feedback on your plans, as well as to evaluate whether you want to work with the attorney you are interviewing.