You’re Not in Kansas Anymore

You feel like your entire house is spinning and you are helpless.

Your lawyer, Tom the Terminator, checks the facts and gathers evidence to support your version of the truth.

He can then properly advise you on your case and if a judge can give you what you ask. This assumes you do not want Joe the Roofer to apologize and repair the leak by Friday.

Tom the Terminator says you need an expert to prove who was responsible for the leaky roof. The expert’s report takes six weeks to obtain but includes video and glossy photographs of the damage. You think your case is a sure winner.

But Joe is not prepared to give up. He responds by hiring his own expert, who finds that the architect approved the use of defective roofing shingles. Joe fights back by suing you for the final instalment, overdue interest and payment of his legal fees.

Adversarial system – a legal system that requires judges to resolve disputes

These steps are a logical progression to have your day in court.

While this goes on, your family lives in a leaky home waiting for a judge to decide who pays for the damage.

What do you do next? You ask your lawyer how much longer this will take and cost.

You expect to get a trial date a year down the road. By now, what you have spent on a lawyer could have paid for a brand new roof.

Isn’t that what you really wanted?

Sure, you have rights. Yes, someone did mess up. But do you want to wait for a trial or get on with your life?

Tom, as your lawyer, should have warned you about the costs and your case earlier.

You should be informed of the full range of solutions to your problem, including alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods.

In many legal disputes you are compelled to defend yourself. Where does this urge come from?

Stay tuned for the next post to find out. You can also read my previous mediation blog posts here.