All businesses come across at least some legal issues during their lifecycle, regardless of whether their management expects them or not. Although it is essential to try and avoid legal issues, a business must be prepared for legal issues when they arise. You need to know how you will respond in the event of a legal issue so that when it comes up, you can respond according to a well-rehearsed playbook. One of the fundamental things that businesses should do is seek specialized help and ensure that they document their processes, transactions, and key events so that they are armed with facts when legal issues arise. This article will go through the key things you need to do to deal with legal matters in your business effectively.
Document and File Everything
When you are faced with a legal issue, arguments on your side have to be backed up with facts, and those facts have to be in the form of contemporary documents. You need to establish a robust process for filing company records, incident reports as they arise, and records of investigations into any incidents. Your legal opponent will seek to show that you were at fault in terms of your intent, preventive systems, or support structures, and you need to have the documents on hand to back up your contention that you acted appropriately. Documentation is one of the most important things you can do, and it is also something that many businesses fail at.
Exercise Impartiality and Consistency
Often, employees and other stakeholders perceive management’s decisions to be biased. This perception of bias can be the bias of a lawsuit or some other legal complaint. To minimize the risk of legal issues deriving from perceptions of discrimination, you need to develop decision-making frameworks that are unbiased and consistent. Suppose you can formulate such frameworks, especially when they are built on decision trees and probabilistic assessments. In that case, you can show that your decisions were taken with reasonable safeguards against bias, and you will have improved your decision-making in the process.
Ground Your Arguments in Facts
Legal issues have a way of inflaming emotions. It is common to find that people become bitter, resentful, and angry during legal proceedings, harming their legal strategy’s effectiveness. A legal approach must be dispassionate and grounded in facts. It must focus on investigating the facts of an issue, using the documentation you have built up in preparation for this eventuality, and developing arguments that stem naturally from the facts. Keep emotion and baseless accusations out of legal processes. They do more harm than good; indeed, I can’t think of any good they can do for your legal strategy.
Be Clear and Concise
When making legal arguments, it’s essential to be clear and concise. You aren’t writing a Tolstoyan novel. Courts and adjudication bodies deal with many legal issues every year and do not take kindly to long-winding arguments. Indeed, such statements can drag out proceedings, costing you money and possibly alienating the judge or official in charge of your case.
Again, remove the emotion from the equation, be dispassionate, and show the merits of your case based on the facts you have gathered.
Familiarise Yourself With Relevant Laws
It’s vital to spot the key issues to get the right kind of help and know how to respond and where to find out more about building a great business. The law is an intricate thing, built upon precedence, legal opinions, and decisions. If you can spot the key issues, you stand a good chance of knowing how to respond and when. To spot these critical issues, you have to understand the fundamental laws affecting your industry. You also have to understand the legal risks that your business model incurs to know the laws that may become relevant to you one day.
Legal issues can be emotionally and, therefore, mentally overwhelming. Stay on course and focus on the legal case at hand rather than spiraling into mental games of imagining what will happen to you and your business or what you should or could have done. Get legal counsel, gather the relevant documents, maintain confidentiality where necessary, investigate outstanding issues, and craft responses with the advice of counsel. Keep emotional equilibrium and stay the course, and you will be alright.
Be Your Company’s Devil’s Advocate
You need to be hyper-critical of your company in a very constructive way. As a devil’s advocate of sorts, you have to see how your legal opponent could tear your arguments apart. Look for holes in your legal defense. Ask yourself, “Supposing I lost, where am I likely to have lost?” as part of a process so you can do what you need to do so you can win. In other words, you need to imagine how you could lose to improve your chances of winning. Get your managers and employees involved so you can create the most robust review of why you would lose so that you can arm yourself against this.
It’s tempting to bounce your ideas off of your employees and other people within the organization. However, spilling the tea on what’s going on can harm the confidentiality of the process and make you seem like you can’t be trusted. Maintain confidentiality. Everyone will understand why and respect you for it. If you need to vent, get a journal.
If you treat people with compassion, you are unlikely to have any legal issues. Even when faced with a legal opponent, you must remember Hanlon’s Razor: more things are done in ignorance or error than out of malice. Don’t demonize the person at the other end of a legal issue.
You should also think before you write. It can be found in discovery and removed from all context; something innocent can make you look horrible. This, too, is about being human. Remember how often something, taken out of context, looks odious. So keep your writing to the essentials.