It was take your dad to court day, not that I sued my father, but that he had a legal matter and I was co-counsel. It was fascinating to see the process through a layman’s eyes because court is not about “justice,” it’s about “negotiation.”
This frustrated my father. Statistically about 75% of cases settle. Why?

The judge made two important statements:
“This is not about all the emotions or who is right or wrong.”
“Each side had to give and take.”
The other side in this case was unreasonable and unwilling to give up anything so there will be a trial.

My dad is still confused.

First, the clerk magistrate is like a gatekeeper. He or she is giving information on the validity of your case. They try to settle matters at that level first, if not then your next step it to appear before the judge where the judge again will try to settle matters.

Why?

Courts are busy and trials take time. If there are settlements negotiated or mediated, then the judge is free to handle other matters.

What about the lawyer?

Well, in the court room there was a matter before the judge that just needed to the two lawyers to agree to continue. So they each charged their clients to come to court to work out a date to meet in the future.

My point is this—if things go wrong, then approach it with a settlement attitude. Negotiate so that you can come up with a fair outcome, talk to a lawyer to see your rights, but it will cost less in time and money when you can come up with a solution before court.

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Cynthia Pasciuto is an attorney, consultant, mediator and educator in Massachusetts who has taught at Bentley University, NIWH and NESA.