A general counsel (GC) must handle a conflict when it arises in your best interest. Managing internal parties who might have conflicting interests in the disputes falls under this category. In order to ensure that interests and issues are clearly understood, particularly with regard to the legal fees involved with the dispute, the GC will typically need to instruct external lawyers and frequently must engage with internal stakeholders and external lawyers. In this context, the GC’s principal duty in the majority of conflicts is to settle the differences quickly and economically. A quick conclusion is frequently favored to a drawn-out conflict.
GCs should be aware of the following inquiries and checkpoints:
Considering your actual interests.
- Focusing exclusively on a case’s legal merits in litigation or arbitration: Is it really what you want? Do any further factors exist?
- Arbitration and litigation are frequently binary processes that simply consider the results of the law (i.e., win or lose): Should the disagreement go to court or arbitration, what results would be beneficial to you?
- How crucial is it that you maintain the dispute’s secrecy?
- What PR and publicity dangers exist if the case is covered by the media?
- What kind of connection exists between the parties? Are these connections worth keeping up? Are there any secondary relationships to be taken into account?
- Take into account the true expenses of the issue.
You must first calculate the financial cost before reevaluating. Ask the stakeholders if they would want to resolve this quickly through negotiation or go down the path of litigation or arbitration. Will mediation make it possible to settle the conflict sooner rather than later?
Perhaps once your genuine interests and the actual expenses of the issue have been taken into account, the million-dollar claim in court or arbitration won’t seem quite so enticing. The next step is to have a focused discussion with your outside legal counsel and ask: “How can we handle this disagreement in the most original and economical manner, to further your true interests?”
The right strategy is driven by the right questions!
By asking the proper questions and implementing the right techniques, GCs can effectively manage disputes.