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Changing the Odds in Litigation



Tom Bell and Tom Henefer of Stevens & Lee, a law firm attending the marcus evans Chief Litigation Officer Summit Fall 2014, on early case assessment and building the right team to handle it

NEW YORK, NY, Aug 24, 2014 - (ACN Newswire) - When facing litigation threats, be ready, be proactive and be armed with the right team. That is the advice offered by Tom Bell and Tom Henefer, members of the Commercial Litigation Department at Stevens & Lee, both of whom stress that Chief Litigation Officers (CLOs) must have a disciplined approach to early case assessment and must deal with events proactively before they blossom into actual litigation.

Stevens & Lee is a law firm at the marcus evans Chief Litigation Officer Summit Fall 2014, in Palm Beach, Florida, September 14-16.

- How could organizations improve their process for early case assessment? Why should they?

Henefer: A disciplined and effective approach to early case assessment is critical in commercial litigation. Discipline means having a process that requires case assessment at defined milestones in the life of a case. Effective means building the right team that can bring to bear the required objectivity and expertise (often including non-attorney experts in relevant fields). CLOs should focus on early case assessment because it helps identify cases that should be resolved early and successful strategies for cases that cannot be settled. Haphazard efforts invariably increase the odds of flawed case assessment. And, improper assessment can commit the company to protracted litigation where the only guarantee is litigation cost and risk. Building the right team to assess litigation risk early, effectively and routinely as the case progresses is critical.

- What is the "right team"?

Henefer: In all cases, the team should include sophisticated Litigation Counsel who understand the industry or issues in question and can assess the facts and risks presented. But a multidisciplinary team is often critical. Such teams may include industry experts as well as financial analysts who can begin to model the possible damages sooner rather than later.

- What threats should CLOs protect their organizations from? What goes undetected?

Bell: Ironically, one of the biggest undetected threats is the routine use of contractual arbitration provisions in inappropriate contexts. Even sophisticated business clients often include these provisions with the mistaken belief that arbitration is always a good thing. Arbitration may be good for certain situations (like consumer contracts), but is rarely good for complex commercial transactions.

First, for commercial litigation, arbitration is often just as, if not more, expensive than traditional litigation in court. Second, in traditional litigation, summary judgment is often an effective way to limit costs and reduce the risk of aberrant results. But in arbitration, you almost never have a meaningful opportunity for summary judgment. Third, because it is difficult to successfully appeal arbitration awards, arbitrators are more likely to render decisions they think are correct even if not in accordance with law. Arbitration makes it harder, not easier, to accurately assess your litigation risk.

- How can CLOs change the odds in litigation?

Bell: Being ready and proactive is critical. Even before an event that could lead to litigation occurs, there should be policies and procedures in place to properly respond to events that may give rise to a claim. When events occur and CLOs (or their teams) are engaged, company responses to events can be monitored to ensure both that proper steps are taken and that those steps are documented so favorable evidence can be preserved and later used in litigation if necessary. A proactive response can minimize the risk that the event will turn into litigation and, if litigation is inevitable, will put the company in a better position to defend.

About the Chief Litigation Officer Summit Fall 2014

The 14th Chief Litigation Officer Summit is the premium forum for bringing leading in-house litigation counsel across the nation together with service providers. Taking place at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach, Florida, September 14-16, 2014, the Summit includes presentations on privacy and social media, alternative approaches in litigation, outside counsel management, and making the law department into a profit center.

For more information, please send an email to [email protected] or visit the event website at www.chieflitigationofficersummit.com/TomBellTomHeneferInterview

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Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About Stevens & Lee

Among the 200 largest law firms in the nation, Stevens & Lee is an industry-focused law firm providing clients with cost-effective solutions, alternative fee arrangements and innovative risk-sharing engagements.

Stevens & Lee is part of Stevens & Lee/Griffin, a professional services platform comprised of 220 multidisciplinary professionals, including 170 lawyers, with diverse occupational experience, educational backgrounds and industry expertise. The platform provides a complete range of legal, investment banking, financial advisory, government affairs, crisis management, risk management and other professional services to our clients. Please visit www.stevenslee.com.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world's leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit www.marcusevans.com.

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