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Litigation

Vaishnavi Reddy

February 28, 2021

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Despite deploying a significant amount of legal expertise, funds to avoid lawsuits, and various provisions and alternatives for dispute resolution, companies frequently face a lengthy series of litigation proceedings. Civil litigation broadly comprises investigation and preparation of lawsuit, initiation of the lawsuit, discovery, scheduling, trial and appeals, and some other post judgement matters. These processes are often costly, as they are quite labor-intensive and require lots of external resources. A Duke University study has revealed that for every dollar spent in litigation, 40% went into paying awards and settlements, and all of the remaining amounts went to litigation costs.

Lawyers are expected to know almost every tiny aspect of the case and its related information and must have knowledge of every document associated with it. It is estimated that an average lawyer spends a minimum of 10 hours in preparation for every single hour of actual trial time. Most legal counsel works with all the concerned departments of a business to assess damages and ensure there are no internal controversies and technicalities that can expose the company to much higher risk. Adequate preparation of a lawsuit demands highly intensive research of the business, its competitors, recent updates to laws and regulations, and market trends. The validity and the strength of the proposed lawsuit are confidentially tested by highly experienced legal consultants who also ensure that the case falls under the statute of limitations before the party (business) raises an official complaint.

In the next stage, the attorneys with sufficient knowledge of the local courts’ rules analyze multiple criteria that they fulfill concerning the case before picking the appropriate court. They also send the defendant a summons, which states the time-limit and a formal complaint that contains the description of events leading to the dispute, how the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff, the legal basis for holding them responsible, and why the court holds jurisdiction of the case. Similarly, the defendant can respond with their version of the description of events, falsehoods and inaccuracies, and counterclaims within a limited period. This process of pleadings undergoes multiple iterations with court-supervised amendments and clarifications before entering the discovery process.

Discovery is one of the longest stages of litigation as it involves obtaining vast amounts of information regarding the opposite party that can help strengthen their arguments. The legal teams gather case-related evidence by demanding the production of documents, examination of the scene, deposing parties and witnesses, written interrogatories, written requests for admission of facts and petitions, and motions employed to enforce discovery rights. Locating and deposing expert witnesses is the most expensive part of the discovery and requires a comprehensive study of similar cases and the opposition’s history, which is very time-consuming. By the end of discovery, both the parties are given a chance to apply for a motion to end, amend or dismiss a part of the case or seek further clarification before trial.

If the dispute remains unresolved after discovery, the court announces a trial date to begin hearings and other evidence. Both parties will be required to submit a brief that involves an outline of their arguments i.e., opening statements and a collection of all the evidence that each party wants to present during the trial. After both parties introduce their cases, the plaintiff has one last chance to issue any additional evidence within a specified duration called rebuttal evidence. After examination and cross-examination of every witness presented, both parties make their closing statements and await the judgement. Trials are generally much faster and are quite challenging as they involve predicting the opposing party’s arguments and moves and acting swiftly. They call for thorough research of laws, evidence, outcomes of similar cases, witness personalities, and opposition’s strategies.

Once the verdict has been made, a party may challenge it due to errors or disregard of the law. They can also file a motion for a new trial or can appeal the decision. This is then forwarded for a review of previous proceedings in the appellate court, which follows the same process as above with an outcome of re-affirmation of a verdict or a re-opening of a trial. The litigation usually ends with final settlements, compensation, and the parties abiding by the court authorized list of demands, rules, and conditions.

The businesses and other institutions shell out massive amounts of money, staff-hours, and other resources to win in a lawsuit while risking blows to reputation. And the external legal counsel bills in the maximum hours to complete all these processes to ensure their profitability, which calls for an accountable and efficient mechanism that every party involved can benefit from. Subtl can be utilized in each of the above steps in litigation and enormously diminish both time and expenses incurred. It is capable of understanding vast amounts of structured and unstructured information and intelligently responding to any query the legal team has during the investigation/preparation of lawsuits. It also reduces the need for interdepartmental dependence by including accurate company data that the lawyers can use to create lawsuits and conduct rigorous internal and external background checks during every step.

During the pleading stage, lawyers can utilize Subtl by merely uploading the information of all courts and their descriptions and setting filters to shortlist the ones that fit all their criteria. Furthermore, as complaints have to be incredibly authentic and definitive, Subtl can help the legal teams easily integrate the investigation reports and pre-discovery evidence to produce an extremely accurate and responsible complaint/answer, which can reduce the number of amendments in the future. Additionally, it can be instrumental in handling the time-sensitive and unverified data that the lawyers receive. As they obtain vast amounts of varied information in different formats and subject matters, Subtl can be quite useful in bridging the knowledge gap and freeing up the lawyers to focus more on locating and deposing suitable witnesses. Finally, trials are the most challenging part of litigation as they can steer the lawsuit in favor of any party within seconds. Hence, the legal teams are now turning towards AI-based technologies that can multiply their information intelligence efficiency, and Subtl can assist them in studying new evidence, additional case studies and other updated information swiftly and drastically improve the case quality of the party.

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Vaishnavi Reddy

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