Hicks Thomas partners John Deis and Courtney Ervin recently spoke with Texas Lawyer about key strategies for managing a business dispute. In the article, “Key Advice on Preventing or Preparing for a Business Dispute” (subscription required), Mr. Deis and Ms. Ervin discussed the importance of preparing for a commercial dispute even before one happens. They also provided detailed recommendations on early involvement of in-house counsel and navigating the process once a dispute arises.
In-house counsel and the business team should work together from the outset “to get a clear understanding of the client’s perspective, including how the other side will frame the dispute, and the client’s expectations and hopes for an ultimate outcome,” Ms. Ervin told Texas Lawyer. “At the beginning of the dispute, it is also important to obtain copies of all communications pertinent to the case and make sure there is a clear understanding of how things transpired.”
Mr. Deis added, “Both groups bring to the table different information and perspectives that are critical to an effective litigation strategy.” Then, armed with a complete picture of the dispute, “begin considering what the dispute resolution and litigation strategies are and make sure that business communications are aligned with those strategies. Identify problem areas early and fully apprise the business units of these problems in order to set expectations on the range of potential outcomes.”
Along with best practices for communicating during a dispute, Mr. Deis and Ms. Ervin provided advice on assessing indemnity and insurance rights and obligations at the outset of a dispute.
They also detailed key processes and procedures that companies can put in place to prevent future disputes, including:
- Having a procedure in place to review contracts to ensure compliance and evaluate the need for amendments.
- Reviewing contracts after an acquisition in order to identify how they will apply moving forward and whether the previous parties’ course of performance complied with the contract.
- Involving a litigator in reviewing drafts of significant contracts, including Master Service Contracts that may cover numerous or high-risk transactions or long periods of time, as well as non-routine contracts such as those relating to novel or substantial business operations.
Mr. Deis is a skilled litigator who concentrates his practice on complex construction, oil and gas and commercial litigation. His understanding of complex business and technical issues has benefitted his clients in cases ranging from catastrophic oil and gas accidents to industrial construction projects, contract disputes and trade secret matters.
Ms. Ervin focuses her practice on high-stakes commercial litigation in state and federal courts and in arbitration, where she has served as lead counsel for Fortune 500 companies and independent companies in the oil and gas, energy and insurance industries. Ms. Ervin also represents clients in the construction, real estate, private equity, information technology and health care industries.
To schedule an appointment with Mr. Deis or Ms. Ervin, contact our firm today.