What is a fair legal resolution?

A fair resolution, whether in mediation, arbitration, or litigation, depends on the client’s expectations and whether they felt they had control over their case. If a lawyer isn’t upfront with their client about the potential risks of going to litigation, the client may feel that they weren’t properly educated about their options. And when a client feels they were not aware of all their options, they’ll feel that they weren’t in control.

Each path towards legal resolution offers the client a varied amount of control over the final result. In arbitration the client is able to pick the arbitrator; in mediation, the client is involved in the negotiation and is partially responsible for the resolution. Litigation is where the client has the least control. They only provide the evidence. The lawyer makes the submission and presents the case to the judge, and the judge tries the case and makes the decision on their own.

Since so much of the litigation process is out of the client’s control, compromise can be a valuable tool. To those unfamiliar with the legal process, compromising in litigation may sound like the client is admitting defeat. But by reaching a resolution through compromise, they have partial ownership over the result.

A fair resolution can also occur in litigation without compromise. If the client enters litigation knowing that the result may not go their way and is well informed on what the risks are, they will feel more comfortable about the parts of litigation out of their control. In the end, even though they may not have been involved in deciding the result, they were able to take ownership over the decision to go to litigation.

There is no set formula for every client to apply to determine whether a resolution is fair. Some factors that can influence how they feel about the case are whether they felt in control of the direction the case was heading, whether they were involved in the resolution, and if their lawyer properly educated them on the risks of litigation.