The colossal river of business litigation is large enough already without creating new logjams. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening nationwide. Within the last three years over 80% of states court systems have experienced funding cuts. This means criminal cases receive top priority, and we all know how many of those exist. Peter S. Green writes about the lengthening litigation timelines and the ramifications in Bloomberg Businessweek (In Alabama, Lady Justice Has Fridays Off 12/3/1212/9/12, p. 58):
Dick Burdge, a Los Angeles attorney and president of the county bar association, says hes been stuck for two years resolving a contract dispute between partners in a small clothing manufacturer. The courts are so backed up that the case is still stalled. It takes five months to get a court date for a discovery motion, something that used to take a few weeks.
In many business-litigation cases, monies affected by the dispute are placed in an escrow account until the case is settled. For a small business owner this can be crippling. Funds for business expansion and even normal cash flow are no longer available.
Generally, businesses have always avoided litigation. Quite simply too much money, time, and resources stand to be lost. Given the legal logjam escalation, the stakes are going up significantly. Some players just might be forced to leave the table.
My guess is now more than ever anyone involved in any aspect of risk management will be expected to be at the top of his or her game. Simultaneously, this legal chaos creates some opportunities for the perceptive employee. You can help your organization get ahead of the curve on this one. Keep your eyes open. I know of no boss who does not appreciate a timely contribution that dodges a legal pitfall. Now is the time.
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