At DPLO, we realize many people who come to us are not familiar with the nuances of negotiation and litigation. As a result, we strive from the outset to clearly explain the process and strategies for a successful outcome.
The following is a brief overview of our internal process:
Before they become clients, each individual seeking representation with us is asked to prepare a summary of the events leading to the conduct about which they are complaining. This enables us to assess the merits of the case and to determine what issues may arise during the representation. It also allows us to avoid conflicts of interest so that each client we represent is assured of our complete loyalty and single-minded advocacy on their behalf.
Once the summary is received and evaluated, an initial consultation is scheduled where the individual will meet with one of the partners from the firm. The purpose is to explore the needs of the individual, discern challenges and obstacles to resolution and develop strategies for meeting client goals. At the end of the consultation, the client will have an understanding of his or her rights under the law and will typically be asked to perform some additional investigation. The partners will also review any documents that have been provided by the individual at this time.
The firm will generate a retainer agreement if the individual and firm agree to proceed. The retainer agreement sets forth the terms of the relationship so that both the client and the firm have a similar understanding of how the representation will proceed, the services the firm will and will not provide and the client’s responsibilities to the firm during the engagement.
As a general practice, the firm seeks to explore the possibility of a resolution at the earliest opportunity. This is generally before a complaint is filed in court. A negotiated settlement at this stage generally represents the most cost effective and timely resolution of a case. The partners are experienced in all facets of Alternative Dispute Resolution including arbitration and mediation. We will counsel the client on the risks and benefits of various ADR procedures to maximize the potential for resolution. Generally, the benefit to the client of early resolution is the avoidance of costly and protracted litigation.
Should early negotiation reach an impasse, the firm and the client will meet for another consultation to determine whether to proceed to litigation.
Litigation is initiated by the firm’s filing of a complaint in state or federal court or an arbitral tribunal on the client’s behalf. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant is required to respond to the complaint by admitting or denying the allegations of complaint. After the defendant has responded to the complaint, the parties engage in the discovery process. This time-consuming process requires that the client be available for depositions and to give responses to written questions posed by the employer called interrogatories. After discovery is completed, the parties will either go to arbitration or trial where either an arbitrator or a jury will resolve the matter.
The partners at the firm are available for consultation and legal advice on employment (including drafting and reviewing executive compensation and severance agreements), disability, consumer and civil rights matters.
Additionally, Tom Duckworth and Mark Peters are available to serve as private mediators to assist parties in reaching resolution of their disputes.